It's all about perspective

Archive for the ‘Journal’ Category

A little bit of housecleaning

I’ve decided to move the more personal stuff over to a different blog, as I really don’t think they belong here anymore. So if you can’t find a blog post that was here, you can now go to my other blog: Uncle Jim.

And before you go “really, Uncle Jim?” Kiss my ass, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want with it. 😛

545 People

I got an email this morning from my father. It was a simple email containing no words, but a simple attachment I was beckoned to read (you can read it at the bottom of this post).

As is normal with nearly every email my parents forward to me, I immediately hit snopes.com to investigate the email’s validity. To my surprise the email was true and in fact was written by Charlie Reese. To my further surprise, this was originally written 25 years ago. (To see two more versions other than the one above hit up this piece on snopes.com.)

After reading the three versions I’ve found (I’m sure there are more) I’ve come to the conclusion that good old Charlie was either a brilliant clairvoyant or a vitriolic idiot. I’m inclined to lean toward the latter. For twenty five years the conservatives in this country have been blaming Congress for every single woe we’ve faced. In fact, the conservatives have been blaming Congress for far longer than that (even way back when the Democrats were the conservatives).

So does this little missive, with its updated names and places, serve as the “I told you so” to the rest of America? I don’t think so. What it does show is the real problem: a lack of personal responsibility. The piece touches on it a few times, but lays that responsibility mostly in the hands of the infamous “545 people.” What about our responsibility as voters? (It’s mentioned once)

There certainly are more than 300 million people in this great nation, but good old Charlie neglects to mention voter turnout. There aren’t 300 million people voting in these elections, not even close. According to infoplease.com voter turnout was only 56.8% of registered voters.

And I bet some of you are saying “Oh wait, what’s this registered voters thing?”

Me: “That? It’s just the number of people in the country who are actually of age to vote; 18 or older.”

You: “Oh. So there aren’t actually 300 million people who could replace these 545 wicked sinners?”

Me: “Not even close, but I was just talking about the number of people who could vote. There’s an entirely different number of people who are eligible for any of these 545 positions.” (I’ll direct you to the Wikipedia page on the qualifications of a Senator and a Representative so this rather generous number shrinks even farther now.)

You: “Damn lazy reporters.”

Me: “Damn right.”

Then again, voter turnout is only really high every four years during a Presidential election. On the “off years,” as I call them, the voter turnout is closer to the high thirtieth percentile. (37.1% – roughly 80 million voters)

The only part of good old Charlie’s letter I agree with is the last few lines, which comes down to this: “Bitch, follow, or do it yourself.” The first two do no one any good, but the last is imperative to the health of any republic. The personal responsibility lays with us. Every registered voter in the United States has an obligation not just to bitch and whine, but to actually do something. Get out and vote your opinion. Don’t just scream it. Don’t just grouse behind a computer screen or newspaper. Support the representatives you support with your votes. But before you can even do that, they must be supported financially and physically. If you can’t donate $5, then donate a few hours of your time to help the people you believe in get to where they can do some good. And if you don’t find anyone out there who agrees with you then run yourself and find others who believe in you.

If you’re unwilling to do any of the previous, then the Common Sense Committee hereby revokes your right to bitch about this or any future situation the United States finds itself in.

Attachment follows the jump:

(more…)

The Speech

On September 8, 2009 President Obama will give this speech to schools around the U. S. This speech is designed to:

Help get America’s students engaged! On Tuesday, September 8 — the first day of school for many students — the President will talk directly to students across the country on the importance of taking responsibility for their education, challenging them to set goals and do everything they can to succeed.

Ever since the announcement there have been people screaming about how it is illegal, immoral, and just propaganda. This, coupled with the Right’s attempt to paint President Obama’s health care initiative in a similar light, just goes to show how far they have actually fallen.

Let me assure you, it is not illegal. The President is not setting curriculum. To do that he would have to say something to the effect of “Today all science classes will now teach Intelligent Design.” This is not something he’s doing, nor will he ever. The President is not changing all schools over to the metric system. He is giving a speech. About personal responsibility. Something that I will agree should be taught by the children’s parents, but a concerned country and member of this society can only blame the parents for so long until action must be taken.

For that reason alone, it is not immoral either. The right wing, and many others, in this country want the government out of their lives. I can understand that and can even sympathize with that. I want corporate control out of my life and feel that’s a much bigger issue than government, but that’s an issue for another time. However, personal responsibility, a skill that very few members of my generation learned and thus, were not able to pass on to their children, is something that must be taught. If we did not learn it from our parents and we did not learn it from school, where were we supposed to learn it? So as a concerned citizen and leader of a society President Obama is stepping up to address the challenge of that very question. He’s not trying to supplant parents, nor is he trying to supplant schools, he is merely challenging the youth and future of our nation to do better than the generation before them. What loftier goal is there?

As far as propaganda is concerned, yes it is a bit of propaganda, but so is education. In fact, every educational system on the planet is designed to lay out the propaganda of that society. “U.S.A. is #1!” The pledge of allegiance and all that jazz. Yet President Obama is not putting a left spin or a right spin on the speech. He is trying to use his own experiences and the experiences of others like him to motivate our children to do better. Not because they’re failing and not because they’re lazy, but because as a parent he knows, just like every parent out there knows, that our children can do better.

It is a speech to our kids about something important that the vast majority of you never would have even hinted at to you own children, but because someone else is doing it, you have to scream and whine and moan about “parent’s rights” and “government influence.” Get real and wake up. There are far worse influences than the government speaking to our children every day.

As a final note, I would like to challenge everyone out there who is a member of the “screaming me-me’s” to tell everyone else where they were when President Bush did the same thing? Where were you when any President addressed the nation like this? I’ll tell you where you were. You were safe at home, or at your jobs, or at your bars not worrying once about it because that time it was “no big deal.” That President was just “one of the boys” what harm could he do?

You don’t say…

So I’m checking my email this afternoon and get a reply from a professor regarding a really late paper I turned in. (It was due November 10 and I turned it in yesterday.) At first I was completely terrified of reading his reply. I was so afraid he was going to tell me that I was going to get no points for the paper or that I had to have some serious audacity to turn in the paper so late. Surprisingly enough, none of that was in his message. It was short, to the point, and completely unexpected. In fact, I’m still dumbfounded and reeling from my initial read-through of his two sentence email.

He called me brilliant.

Yes we did

As the world well knows, on November 4, 2008, the United States voted to elect Barack Hussein Obama to be it’s 44th president.

I volunteered for the Obama campaign that day. I was asked to drive out to Republic, a short 15 miles from Springfield, because they needed more help than any of the Springfield offices did. It was a small office in the corner of a shopping center; decorated with every bit of campaign paraphernalia they could find. We were going out to canvass neighborhoods to ensure Obama supporters knew where their polling place was and that they actually got out to vote.

I was astounded to learn that I would be one of three team “captains” because I could drive and I knew the area. They needed people like that because, unbeknown to me, the Obama campaign had bussed almost 50 volunteers from Texas to Missouri. Not just for the 4th either; they had been in Missouri since Saturday. I was amazed, touched, and embarrassed all at the same time and all for the same reason; these people spent their time and energy to volunteer in a place they had never been before, to help people they had never seen before, to help a candidate they believed in, but I only had time for a single day.

I have always said that the faith most important to me is the faith I have in human potential. I will always remember November 4, 2008 as the day that faith was proven to be fact. There is no limit to what humans can do when we work together.

And did we work. I drove and we walked and the hours just slipped through our fingers as we knocked on door after door. After six very long hours the whole of Republic was finally canvassed. Then they sent me and six other out-of-town volunteers to a southern district in Springfield where a very large section of democrat-friendly voters had not been canvassed. Out we went again at 4:30. For the next two hours we rushed to talk to as many people as we could.

We were given two packets consisting of 8 streets each. I had been given two people. I gave them a street to walk and I took a street to drive. Thankfully the alignment in my car is still spot on. As I approached one of the houses on the list I would hop out of my car, let it continue rolling, talk to the person at the house, and then jump back in the car before it rolled away from their property. Dangerous, yes, but it allowed me to cover the same amount of ground as two people on foot.

It was 6:20, the sun had gone down, and the street lights were of no help in finding the addresses on our list, but I was able to talk to one last person. His garage door was open and I found him sitting outside enjoying a cigarette. I introduced myself, told him I was with the Obama campaign, and asked if he had voted yet. He told me he hadn’t and that he wasn’t sure if he was registered. I was kind of stunned. I said “sir, you’re registered to vote. And if you’re sure you are registered to vote, but your polling place doesn’t have your name on the rolls, they have to give you something called a provisional ballot. It’s only 6:25, your polling place is not that far from here, and if you are in line by 7pm they have to let you vote. This is possibly the most important election you will ever have the change to take part in. Don’t pass this up.”

He looked at me for a second, glanced at the ground, and then looked at the clock hanging on the wall in his garage. “You know what? Fuck it” he exclaimed as he dashed over the get the helmet for his scooter. “I’ve still got time right? And they have to let me vote right?”

“Yes sir they do. Thank you sir!” My heart was pounding as he drove his scooter off into the night.

I don’t know whether he was able to vote or not, but I am so excited he tried.

It was projected that Greene county only needed to have 42% of the vote for Obama to take the state. We capped out at 41%. Our efforts made this state undecided even three days after the fact. 5859 votes separate the two candidates.

That night, as I sat with a few friends watching the results at a downtown restaurant, I was speechless as I watched Senator McCain stroll out onto that stage and concede the race. The place erupted in deafening applause. A hard-fought campaign season was finally over. We could all rest, if only for a moment, and enjoy our victory. Now the hard work begins.

Yes we did.

Finding someone new

Over the past several weeks I have gone from a Hillary supporter to an Obama supporter, but beyond charismatic qualities I could not really tell anyone why.

Until I came across this post: Hillary Clinton: The Psycho Ex-Girlfriend of the Democratic Party

Awesome in more ways than I can truly count; it sums up in a laughable way Senator Clinton’s arrogant attitude of self-entitlement and utter lack of ability to read the will of the American people.

http://www.barackobama.com/

I was wrong

Obama is right. And I should have supported him from the beginning.

And bravo to him for finally putting it out there. We are bitter and resentful. Now he may not be on the mark 100% for where those emotions get displaced to, but its a good start to being honest with us. Which is a whole hell of a lot better than McCain and Clinton have been. At the end of this post you will find the full text of what was supposed to be a closed fundraiser dinner.

My father, who is neither a democrat nor an Obama or Clinton supporter, has put it more eloquently than I have been able to. We talk often about the political state of the country we both cherish so much, and even his hardcore conservative republican roots whither before what is represented by these three opponents; you are either for change, or not. With Clinton and McCain, a vote for either of them is a vote for old money and an established way of doing things. In this modern era the average American understands this as merely giving lip service to those you want votes from. That is the Clinton and McCain legacy; we’ve done it like this for so long, why change? Obama on the other hand, represents change and a new way of doing and thinking within this republic for which he wants to stand.

Clinton and McCain both (with a surprising amount of similarity in their responses) said that Obama is out of touch with the average American. Are these two stoned? Are they so wrapped up in their own elitist dogma that they actually think they know what an average american goes through? Clinton paid her own brand of lip service to Pennsylvanians when she said she met “people who are resilient, optimist positive who are rolling up their sleeves.” This reeks of Republican pull yourself up by your own bootstraps rhetoric, and makes me sick to hear it from a Democrat I once supported. McCain called his comments elitist condescension, or rather an aide did, because it seems like McCain wants to be able to distance himself from sounding like the Republican hypocrite he really is.

We have to admit there is a problem before we can even begin to fix it. It’s time to talk and I think the Obama camp said it best in their press release regarding Clinton’s and McCain’s statements.

Senator Obama has said many times in this campaign that Americans are understandably upset with their leaders in Washington for saying anything to win elections while failing to stand up to the special interests and fight for an economic agenda that will bring jobs and opportunity back to struggling communities,” said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor.

“And if John McCain wants a debate about who’s out of touch with the American people, we can start by talking about the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans that he once said offended his conscience but now wants to make permanent.” (taken from this post)

What follows is the full text of the speech Senator Obama gave that started this. You can listen to it at this website.

“So, it depends on where you are, but I think it’s fair to say that the places where we are going to have to do the most work are the places where people feel most cynical about government. The people are mis-appre…I think they’re misunderstanding why the demographics in our, in this contest have broken out as they are. Because everybody just ascribes it to ‘white working-class don’t wanna work — don’t wanna vote for the black guy.’ That’s…there were intimations of that in an article in the Sunday New York Times today – kind of implies that it’s sort of a race thing.

Here’s how it is: in a lot of these communities in big industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, people have been beaten down so long, and they feel so betrayed by government, and when they hear a pitch that is premised on not being cynical about government, then a part of them just doesn’t buy it. And when it’s delivered by — it’s true that when it’s delivered by a 46-year-old black man named Barack Obama (laugher), then that adds another layer of skepticism (laughter).

But — so the questions you’re most likely to get about me, ‘Well, what is this guy going to do for me? What’s the concrete thing?’ What they wanna hear is — so, we’ll give you talking points about what we’re proposing — close tax loopholes, roll back, you know, the tax cuts for the top 1 percent. Obama’s gonna give tax breaks to middle-class folks and we’re gonna provide health care for every American. So we’ll go down a series of talking points.

But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Um, now these are in some communities, you know. I think what you’ll find is, is that people of every background — there are gonna be a mix of people, you can go in the toughest neighborhoods, you know working-class lunch-pail folks, you’ll find Obama enthusiasts. And you can go into places where you think I’d be very strong and people will just be skeptical. The important thing is that you show up and you’re doing what you’re doing.”

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