Wednesday, November 05, 2008

City of Big Shoulders

On why voting for Chicagoans comes easy:

Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
     so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
     job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
     little soft cities;
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
     and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
     Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
     Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
     Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

from Chicago by Carl Sandburg

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Notes on Nov 4th

Three Loves

We do love Thomas Friedman around here.
"Given that Times columnists are not allowed to “formally” endorse candidates and given that the context of this election has changed so much from the policy positions the candidates started with, all I can suggest is that you vote for the candidate with these character traits....Vote for the candidate you think has the smarts, temperament and inspirational capacity to unify the country and steer our ship through what could be the rockiest shoals our generation has ever known."
And we do love British neo-liberals, too.
"For all the shortcomings of the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama offer hope of national redemption. Now America has to choose between them. The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence. But we acknowledge it is a gamble. Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead."
And finally, we cannot help but love Ralph Nader with all our hearts.
"I believe in I.F. Stone's dictum that in all social justice movements, you've got to be ready to lose. And lose and lose and lose. It's not very pleasant, but you have to accept this if you believe in what you're doing."
Happy voting.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Me and John McCain Break Up Over 7 Things (I Hate About Him/You)

Once upon a time, when this blog was updated near-daily, with weird Larry-King-like posts, I wanted to see John McCain run for president, so that I could vote for him and Christine Todd Whitman, and life would become better and better every day. Because he was a Responsible Conservative who would Rescue the Republican Party from People like this. And thereby usher in a new era of bipartisanship where Dems and Pubs got along and ate cotton candy and rode ponies together. Pony rides!* In Washington! O what a day it was going to be!!!11!!!!1!

But then something happened. John McCain ran for president again. And he promptly lost his frakkin' mind.

A not-so-comprehensive list of reasons I used to love John McCain but now can't because he believes something completely different now that he started trolling for votes in Hillsdale, MI and Huntington, IN.**:

1) Sen. McCain used to be a fiscal moderate [Part I]. I know this because he originally opposed the Bush tax cuts. McCain on the Senate floor: "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans who need tax relief." Now he wants to make them permanent. Ostensibly it's because of the financial mess we're in. And I get that from a Righty McRight-Right perspective. But this is "The Maverick starring Mel Gibson" we're talking about. Why not extend them for another year or two until we're out of this mess, then let them quietly expire, so we can get back to balancing this crazy-ass budget deficit? Or am I making too much sense for you right now, Senator? 

2) Sen. McCain used to have principles [Part I]. He used to oppose the torture of human beings. "We’ve sent a message to the world that the United States is not like the terrorists," he said while asking President Bush to support a bill that would ban all sorts of torture for anyone in US government custody, including waterboarding. He even made a good case against waterboarding, too: "All I can say is that it was used in the Spanish Inquisition, it was used in Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia, and there are reports that it is being used against Buddhist monks today…It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture." Then he voted against a bill which would have made the CIA abide by the same rules in the Army Field Manuel, which specifically bans waterboarding as an information gathering tactic. I don't get it. I really, really don't. I guess everybody needs a buddy sometime.

3) Sen. McCain used to stick up to bullies [Part I]. Once upon a time, McCain stood up to the NRA. After saying that "the NRA is entitled to their advocacy. I don’t think they help the Republican Party at all, and I don’t think they should in any way play a major role in the Republican Party’s policy making," the NRA labeled him "one of the premier flag-carriers for enemies of the Second Amendment." That is until he spoke these words at the NRA's national convention: "President Barack Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton would put the rights of ‘law-abiding’ gun owners at risk." More buddies! The list just keeps on growing.

4) Sen. McCain used to stick up to bullies [Part II]. Another once upon a time, McCain called a duck 'a duck.' He railed against Jerry Falwell and other leaders of the Religious Right as “agents of intolerance.” After announcing a run for president, however, he delivered the commencement address at Liberty University, Jerry Falwell's school, after which he was the guest of honor at a reception and private dinner which included a number of conservative church leaders. Sure, endorsements are nice. But so are principles.

5) Sen. McCain used to have principles [Part II]. John used to be a big fan of immigration reform, including creating ways for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship without forced deportation. He even co-sponsored a bill in Congress (that eventually failed to pass). This year he admitted that he wouldn't even vote for his own bill today “because we know what the situation is today. The people want the borders secured first.” Mr. McCain, the people are often wrong. Two and a Half Men is the most watched sitcom in America. Yet How I Met Your Mother is clearly funnier. Sometimes, you have to fight for what you believe in. I believe in Slap Bets. You believe in sorting out this immigration mess without resorting to building huge fucking walls along the entire length of our southern border. Good for me. Good for you.

6) Sen. McCain used to be a fiscal moderate [Part II]. He used to argue for the "essential morality" of the estate tax, explaining that he “consistently voted against repealing this tax because of the impact it would have on the deficit, as well as the possible chilling affect it could have on charitable giving in this country." Now he calls it "one of the most unfair tax laws in the book." I like taxing dead people. Because over-taxing the living just plain sucks. We earn what we have as Americans. Everything else is just plain royalty.

7) Sen. McCain used to have principles [Part III]. Sen. McCain used to oppose a federal ban on gay marriage: “The constitutional amendment we’re debating today strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans. It usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them.” Wow. Now that's great statesmanship. And plausible conservatism in an age when conservatives can't tell whether they love big government or hate it. Yet, one more time, while on the Votes and Endorsement Trail, he told Jerry Falwell he would support a federal marriage amendment to the Constitution if a federal court were to strike state constitutional bans on gay marriage. Not a complete about-face, but he's definitely trying to have his small government cake and eat it, too.

Conclusion: Sen. McCain, I used to love your freakin' guts. Now, I just feel sorry for you. Sorry that you felt you had to turn your back on evertything that made you "you" in order to appeal to the American public, or at least the part of the American public that is pro-America. Because those anti-America parts of the country can fall into the ocean and die. Or they can elect our next president. I forget my point...

Oh, that's right. Sen. McCain, you just lost my vote.***


*Pony rides do solve everything. Because ponies are constitutionally non-partisan.

**Town names chosen completely at random, having nothing to do with those two great institutional influences of my formative years.
***Well, you kind of did about a year ago, but you know what I mean.