Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Left from Center – 336.5

Although I gave my reasons for becoming a Democrat, I had always considered myself to be moderate, and I would look at both parties for candidates. As time progressed, I found that I was pretty much always voting for the Democrat though, and feeling more and more contempt for the GOP.

Was I becoming more Liberal? I don’t think so. I was just reacting to a trend away from those things that might be positive about conservative politics. I can see the value of reducing government spending, even if I think it is often more practical to have some programs run by the government than leaving everyone to work out education or retirement on their own. Really, how many improvements has deregulation brought?

That is not my point, though. My point was that there seemed to be a strong trend away from the proposed platform of moral values and fiscal conservancy and small government, primarily towards nothing being more important than favoring the rich—not so much in the speeches and campaigns, but in actions. This has been most obvious with George W. Bush, whom I despise.

It started out with a “What?” when he first ran. Conventional wisdom always indicated that the next Bush to run for the presidency would be Jeb. As it was, all I really knew about him was that he ran a pretty slimy campaign against Ann Richards for governor, and that is was effective. It wasn’t promising, but slimy campaigns are pretty common.

As more things came out, my image of him worsened. No, it was not so much the National Guard or alcohol issues. It was more the decline of the environment in Texas during his governorship, and the increase in the death penalty, even for the mentally handicapped. He was not a good governor. Granted, he was not much of a businessman, or much of a student, and that never stopped him, but it seemed pretty presumptuous of him to be running for president based on his qualifications.

That was my big concern right there—his sense of entitlement. I couldn’t see what he felt he had to offer to the people, and he didn’t care about that anyway. He just wanted the prestige and power and why shouldn’t he have it? His father had been president, he was rich, and his desires had been gratified over and over again with no other merit.

Really, he has been exactly the president that you would expect from that beginning. If the impropriety of having the person in charge of the election in a key state as your campaign manager does not throw you, than why would you be concerned about putting cronies and yes men into important offices, handing big contracts over to Halliburton without bids, or allowing energy companies to set the energy policy? Why not invade two countries, and why shouldn’t you lie and falsify data to get the second one justified?

There’s really so much that could be covered here, and it’s all been covered before. There is probably some wonderful site with it all in one place, but that’s a lot of data. Rape the environment, trample the Bill of Rights, and cut taxes for the rich. Don’t get me wrong—I think the party trend was to head in this direction anyway—but he just took everything and amplified it to the Nth degree.

I keep feeling like nothing will surprise me anymore, and it really shouldn’t, but I do still get appalled on a regular basis. Some of us were joking the other day about how much he can do in the time between now and the next inauguration (invade Iran and North Korea?), and one person suggested that he will probably declare martial law and prevent the switch. It’s a joke, but dang, you almost wonder.

Perhaps he will not need to do so if he feels comfortable handing the reins over to John McCain. This is where I hurt a little. I used to really like him. Once upon a time I seriously considered voting for him. That was in 2000, and he seemed promising, what with his Straight Talk Express and work on McCain-Feingold, not just because it was anti-corruption but it was also a bipartisan effort. However, someone with a history of slimy campaigning went after him, using his time as a POW to question his mental health. I’ve got to admit, it is kind of impressive to turn being a war hero into a drawback.

(Funny how most of his W’s achievements are so dubious. I think his greatest accomplishment may be making his father look like a better president in retrospect.)

This is the part that hurts me. Bush has the lowest presidential approval rating of all time and it keeps dropping. He has a personal history of wronging McCain. He is not truly fiscally conservative, but in other ways does not really depart from party lines regardless of world opinion, scientific data, or common decency. So…


It makes me question his mental health.

I don’t really even want to get into that. Suffice it to say, I will not be voting Republican this year. I will go over the Democratic candidates in my next post, but I will close on this note.

A documentary that I really appreciated was “The Fog of War”, which is basically just an interview of Robert McNamara, US Secretary of Defense under Kennedy and Johnson. It focuses quite a bit on the Vietnam War. Johnson and McNamara disagreed on what to do, but I really feel that they were both trying to do the right thing. (Maybe there wasn’t a right thing at the point that it became their problem, because troop buildup there started under Eisenhower.)

We can’t expect our leaders to be infallible, but they should at least feel answerable to the greater good. This has been sadly lacking in the current administration. They may present themselves as religious, but their actions contradict it over and over again.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Will she ever get to the current election? – 332.5

Well, I’ve been outed at work. One of my coworkers made a comment about my hiding the blog from them, and so I sent him the link, and he returned a minute later saying he had forwarded it to everyone. In retrospect, I should have seen it coming.

It’s not truly a big deal, as I never really dished any workplace dirt here, but now I feel like the option is off the table. There’s always in person though. Next time you see me, ask me about Jim’s dead father. It is horrible, but not the way it sounds.

One downside of being a habitual procrastinator is that often I want to write about things, but when I get to them they aren’t really relevant anymore. I am really going to feel bad about this when I get to my section on Romney, but first I want to divert a little and talk about Robobrawl.

The site is really designed to convince you that you need Xeon processors in your servers, which is true, but they way they get there, and I don’t blame you if you don’t see the correlation, is robot brawls. Six robots enter, but by the end of the match five are just scorch marks and some springs and cogs.

I love it so much, and I am surprisingly good at it. When you are having a rough day, just taking a break to go and kill some robots feels really great. Even if you don’t win, but can still get a few kills in, it feels good, but also I won a lot. As Deathspork, I finished 117 out of 16704. With more effort I probably could have cracked the top 100, but there was always this nagging voice saying, completely accurately, that this is not the best use of my time.

I wanted to direct people to it, but then I was not writing or writing about other things, and the deadline was coming close. Now the contest has ended, but it is still up. I am sure it won’t last forever, but you do still have a chance to brawl if you want. There is an option to invite friends also, so try it, and if you like it, give me a nudge. I will destroy you.

Anyway, now that I am done focusing on improving my ranking, I think it is time to put a more focused effort into my writing, so I think the trick is to do it every other day for the next two weeks. Covering the election would be at least four posts, and I have been meaning to write about the end of my book club and different sites I like for ages. Oh, and maybe I should write about my adventures in impulsiveness, but if I do it will probably be on a whim.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Unlucky in politics – 334

Before I comment too much on the current race, I’ll just point out that I have a long history of backing losers. It goes as far back as 1980, when I was only eight years old. I don’t think I was even that political, but for some reason I really wanted Anderson to win. Looking back at his credentials, I can see some things that were good about him and some that give me pause, but the point is that I was totally out of step with the Reagan-mania that swept the country.

I had still not warmed up to Reagan in 1984, but Mondale never really captured my imagination either, so I didn’t really have a stake in that one. Naturally I favored Dukakis in 1988, but of course all of this occurred before I was of age. In 1990 I turned 18, and was able to register for the vote.

I registered as a Democrat—at the time I was the only one in the family. Most of my family has since moved left, but they have kept their original party registrations, so on the books I am still the only Democrat, unless my father changed.

It was primarily about two issues for me. One was that I do favor gun regulation. I don’t favor a complete ban, but I would not be against licensing and registration, similar to cars. I was briefly a member of the NRA, when my older sister was selling memberships so she could get this ring, and the magazine subscription that came with that revealed a lot of paranoia (in my opinion). Based on current events, it just seemed to me that people were too quick to fire a gun if they had one, and so I don’t think their ownership should be taken lightly.

The other issue was economics. At the time, I could not in any way see how supply-side economics could work. I understand the philosophy better now, so I can see where some people might expect it to work, but I still do not believe it works, and I think most of the people who promote it don’t really believe in it either, they just want the tax cuts.

Anyway, it was ultimately the party that would line up more with my personal beliefs, and personality, because I have a sympathetic, if not bleeding, heart, and am liberal in the sense of being generous, and I am really not about greed or condemning other people in any way. I suppose I could be called a hippie, but I’m really too square for that. I would say I am a populist, but that’s usually just something people call themselves as a ploy to win votes, and I’m not that cynical (though my sense of humor is).

I guess what I am trying to explain is that the first candidate I supported was Jerry Brown. I even saw him speak. He came to U of O, and Ken Kesey introduced him.

I know a lot of people considered him to be a bit of a space cadet (literally), but at the time I was looking for intelligence and integrity, and I believed he had those. Naturally, by the time the primary came around he was not even on the Oregon ballot, but I did end up voting for Clinton and feeling like he did a good job. I wasn’t happy about the whole Lewinsky thing, but I really don’t think we needed a special investigator for it. I was glad to see the deficit going down, and to feel like my family was making ground economically again, because things had really started to go downhill for us during the second term of Reaganomics, followed by Bush’s voodoo economics.

I did support Gore, though honestly I like him better now than I did then, but I really hated Bush. I remember going to bed on election night just unable to believe that I was going to wake up under a Bush presidency. As it was, hope was kept alive for a little bit longer, but you know how that came out.

Sadly, at this point I don’t even remember whom I initially wanted in 2004. It wasn’t Kerry, but I could live with him. I did not vote for him in the primary, though. I voted for Kucinich to remind Kerry that he did not have a strong mandate, and he should consider being a little more radical. It was Sean Penn’s idea, actually. He left me a phone message. Obviously, I still wish Kerry had won.

Finally, I started off 2008 wishing for Edwards. He had some good moments, but this has not been a typical campaign, and I don’t see how he could have been able to generate enough excitement.

In summary, politics is an area of perpetual disappointment for me, but I am not able to quit caring. So with mingled passion and dread, I will be taking on the 2008 election in my next few posts.