In humble attempt at casting this in the tradition of Socrates, a (slightly altered) quote:

"The unexamined vote is not worth casting."

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Value, and Values, of Barack: It's Not Weak to Be Kind

I appreciated this address of Obama's from Father's Day yesterday. He had me laughing a number of times through, but also provided some nice, sober thoughts on parenting. At one point he hit on ethics, which always interests me, saying:

"The third thing we need to do as fathers, is pass along the value of empathy to our children--not sympathy, but empathy, the ability to stand in someone else's shoes, to look at somebody through their eyes. Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in us, in me, that we forget about our obligations to other people, to one another. There's a culture in our society that says remembering to look out for other people is somehow being soft. We hear that even in our politics, in Washington, that's it's all about you, look out for your self-interest, don't look out for others. You know, our young children, they see that, they see when you're ignoring or mistreating your wife. They see when your inconsiderate at home, when you're distant, when you're thinking only of yourself. So it's no surprise we see that behavior in our schools and on our streets. And that's why we have to teach young people, there's nothing weak about being kind, there's nothing weak about being thoughtful, there's nothing weak about being considerate. We gotta teach our children that you're not strong by putting other people down, you're strong by lifting other people up--that's our responsibility as fathers...When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me--how do I make it in the world, how do I become successful, how do I get the things I want. But now my life revolves around my two little girls...and what I think about is what kind of world am I leaving them. Are we leaving them a country where there's a huge gap between a few people who are wealthy and a whole bunch of people who are struggling everyday? Am I leaving them a country that's still divided by race, a country where, because they're girls, they don't have as much opportunity as boys do? Am I leaving them a country where we're hated around the world because we don't cooperate with other nations?...What I've realized is that life doesn't count for much unless you're willing to do your small part to leave our children--all of our children--a better world, even if it's difficult..."

Among other things, he goes on to make an interesting note, that when fathers are taking responsibility (yes, "responsibility," that word conservatives attempt to claim as theirs alone), that the government has an obligation to do its part for them--allowing health care to be affordable, having a fair tax code, providing job training, paid sick leave, etc. Check out the whole video below, it's a worthwhile 20 minutes or so (P.S. - At one point I think he uses the word "promises" when he means to say "challenges," or something like "challenges"--see if you hear that, and throw a comment my way if you do :). A product of having to talk day in and day out I suppose):

Above photo credits: From Obama's Flickr page, some rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Will They Debate Without the Media?

The below article talks about the idea that McCain suggested of doing 10 "town-hall" like debates over 10 weeks this summer; it would be without any media folk in between them--an appealing thought, it seems, if done well (or at least in a way similar to what they propose). Here's the first part of the article:

"It's pretty obvious what was the most overhyped political story of the past week. The honors clearly go to the Hillary Clinton drama: Will she stand down? Will she endorse? Will she deign to accept the vice presidency? Will she join a monastic order and move to a commune? What a lot of nonsense.

It was always a certainty that this accomplished Democratic pol would do what was in her own and her party's interests, namely, by behaving like the pro she is and thereby preserving her career options. There was never a chance she would go to Denver to launch a futile challenge; nor would she sulk and let herself be the scapegoat if Barack Obama loses.

Because the Clinton speculation consumed so much of the oxygen, a genuinely important development drew much less sustained attention than it deserves. I am referring to the challenge from John McCain to Barack Obama to hold a series of 10 joint town meetings starting this month and continuing perhaps until Election Day.

Bypassing the TV networks, the presidential debate commission and all the other muckety-mucks who have seized control of the campaign dialogue, McCain simply dropped the newly nominated Obama a note saying, in effect, let's get it on.

The Obama camp said it found the notion "appealing," and with that, what may be the largest step toward improving the content of the presidential election became a genuine possibility..."

Read the rest of the (short) article here (it's by David Broder from Sunday's Washington Post and has some interesting points about how significant a change it could be for the format of debates--I know I've seen some where I wish the candidates could just turn and address one another, though I'm not sure if they would need SOME sort of moderator/referee to break things up at times...).

Update: Apparently Obama suggested they do less debates and fewer in the format McCain wanted--good? I don't know. Obama offered to have five total debates, which is apparently more than have ever been had between general election candidates, so that is certainly something. I think that should give a good picture of the two candidates, though I think that at least a few more "town hall" style debates, such as McCain suggested, may have been good.

Update 2: This is a tough call for me the more I have thought about it, because Obama is heading up a huge push to redraw states into the race in a way that I completely support. Virginia, Georgia, and a number of other states are now competitive because he decided to expand the map and thereby bring more people into the process--Dems would barely even campaign in these states in the past, removing the ability of citizens in those states from even voicing their opinion on the race for the highest office in the land (removing their voice, that is, because in the presidential elections it's a winner-take-all system, and not proportional; therefore, if 49% of Virginians voted for McCain, and 51% for Obama, VA would go to Obama, and the 49% of the voters who voted for McCain would not be added into the overall total McCain votes throughout the country--it's tough to know exactly what to think of the system, but it's in place right now, so we should at least bring as many people into the process as possible!). And as a last thought in terms of the debates, I think the voters will have PLENTY of information to decide on, what with the internet, two "forums" with the candidates in Aug. and Sept., two information-packed conventions, and three debates. It's more than fair, in my view, for Obama to focus on getting before the people with his own message, opposed to ceding airtime and time in general to McCain and the un-unique message that he's touting (similar as it indeed is to Bush's policies).

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Conceding Clinton, Magnanimous Obama

I had to stick this great front page shot of Obama during his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination (June 3rd of last week). The annoying thing, of course, is that it's been inevitable for so long that it took something out of the event--though it was quite good and hugely energized still (watch the whole speech here, as it's definitely worth it and undoubtedly historical).

Clinton did her part for that night too though, with her non-concession, as it were. The other shoe did of course finally drop on Saturday as Clinton conceded and endorsed Obama. It was a long time coming, but thankfully it did. I felt a bit underwhelmed, but then again I should've expected as much, given her antics leading up to it; she did have some interesting things to say no less, even if she was 45 minutes late to the speech. And, to say clearly, I think it is not small but huge that a woman got this close to becoming President of the United States--I just feel she did it in an overly-ambitious way that really did smack of entitlement, etc.

Below is the video of her speech, followed by a short clip from Obama's above acceptance speech (and a bonus video for my fellow Virginians); in the clip he directly addresses Clinton, and it's nothing if it's not generous and big-hearted, demonstrating his ability to take the high road. This is particularly true given that he gave the speech on Tuesday, after he had secured all of the necessary votes for the nomination, but four days before her below concession speech; in fact, as some of you probably saw, she was still claiming that she had the proper right to the nomination that night.

Clinton's speech:

Clip from Obama's nomination speech, as he addresses Clinton during it:

Bonus--for you fellow Virginians out there, take a look at Obama's first stop after he was officially nominated (we can expect the hoopla to only increase as November nears I'm sure, so look out for appearances if you're interested; note the nice intros for our Virginians, Sen. Webb and Gov. Kaine, who are both talked about as potential VPs):

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Past Candidate Posts

Click on any of the links below to see my past posts on these candidates who have now dropped out of the runnings:

Past Series: My Major Qualms With Clinton

Here are links to a past series I did on my major issues with Clinton (though I thought I would take it off the front page of the blog since she's now dropped out; I post-dated it (handy tool in Blogger) so it wouldn't show up on the front page of the blog):

Qualm 1: Vote on Iraq
Qualm 2: Democratic Devolutionist
Qualm 3: Lack of Integrity
Qualm 4: Two Families + 25 Years = Too Much
Qualm 5: "Experience"

Update: Although I think some damage was done with the cavalier, sometimes unethical way the Clintons approached the primary season, Hillary seemed to really have realized the gravity of the consequences of having McCain and not Obama in the White House with her boo-yow speech at the Dems Convention.

Other Past Topics

Click on any of the links below to see other topics I've written on or included in posts over the last year. Each link has the number of posts that include that topic in parentheses:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Clinton, Going Down Flailing

I was ready to put this post up to deliver a good elbow to Clinton's side, given some recent talk from her campaign. Then I thought I would take a look at her site to see what she had up there on this last day of the primaries. As I did, I had in mind a post I'd read earlier about how Bill Clinton may still be seeing women on the side, and so I felt bad for her. With that in mind, if she had a realistic, humble front on her website I may have skipped this post.

Alas, she did not. Rather, she appears to have decided to go down flailing. While I still feel sad about the way Bill may be treating her (though it was not clear from what I read), I am nevertheless angry about a particular aspect of her recent politicking: her claim that she has a higher popular vote count than Obama. This is abhorrent to me, given: 1) the duplicitous way she comes up with the count, and 2) the way she is touting that contrived count before Americans, directly egging on the idea that Obama has not been chosen by the people.

First, with the count, she has herself around 200,000 votes in front of Obama. To reach (and yes, she reaches) for that magic (yes, it takes a little) number, she counts Michigan. She generously grants herself 328,309 from Michigan and Obama zero--yes, zero, out of the 238,168 that voted for what appeared with the name "uncommitted" on the ballot. He took his name off the ballot, as did four to five other Democrats in respect for the party rules that Michigan violated. She said Michigan did not count. The rules committee of the Democratic party said it did not count. Read more here. So not only is she manipulating the numbers, but she's throwing it out before voters with ads such as this--aired this week--and doubletalk such as this, on her website.

I'd love if there could be some substantive show of unity from her side, allowing her past lack of integrity (such as this) to be overlooked, but her over-ambition is simply too much to allow for that. This over-ambition is one reason I wrote about not wanting her as vice president and one reason I wrote back in February about how I thought she would be a Democratic devolutionist (she may yet deliver on this if her self-absorbed antics have their way and affect the willingness of voters to support Obama--scratch that, I think she has already affected the willingness of at least some to support Obama). If ever I got into the habit of thinking someone's a-okay because they wear the right party affiliation, she and Bill have throughly cured me of that. What are your thoughts on 'ol Clinton after this mess of a primary season?

Update: Following the final primaries tonight, Hillary kept flailing in her speech, with comments such as the following, which are nothing short of counterproductive in my view: "And I am just enormously grateful, because in the millions of quiet moments, in thousands of places, you asked yourself a simple question: Who will be the strongest candidate and the strongest president? Who will be ready to take back the White House and take charge as Commander-in-Chief and lead our country to better tomorrows? People in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the territories, all had a chance to make your voices heard and on Election Day after Election Day, you came out in record numbers to cast your ballots. Nearly eighteen million of you cast your votes for our campaign, carrying the popular vote with more votes than any primary candidate in history. Even when the pundits and the naysayers proclaimed week after week that this race was over, you kept on voting."