Strange Bedfellows – Sequester and Marriage Equality Edition

Posted on May 9th, 2013 in Commentary,Engineerboy,Politics by EngineerBoy
The Birth of a New Political World?

The Birth of a New Political World?

Disclaimer: the article below represents the noodlings of a dumbass who is talking about things way over his head, but which he nonetheless found interesting as a mental exercise.

There’s an old saying that ‘politics makes strange bedfellows’, meaning that the alliances and enmities that occur in politics are often highly situational and transient, resulting in kaleidoscopic political theater where it’s difficult to tell the players without a constantly updated program.

When you add money to the mix, it tends to accelerate the wackiness even further.  I think that two recent political theater productions are both ultimately being driven by economics. There’s another old saying that if you want to understand something in the political (or business) world, your best bet is to ‘follow the money’, so here’s my decode based on that precept of two recent omnipresent political issues:

Issue #1: The Sequester
Remember a couple of years ago when the US faced a debt-ceiling crisis, and ultimately the compromise was to extend the debt ceiling, with the proviso that a ‘poison pill’ called the ‘sequester’ would kick in if the Executive and Legislative branches couldn’t come up with a mutually agreeable budget by 2013? Good times.

The sequester was essentially a set of automatic spending cuts that hit at the sacred cows of all the players, meaning the Republicans put the defense budget on the table, while the Democrats put entitlements on the chopping block, etc, and if the two sides couldn’t agree on a more rational budget, these automatic cuts would trigger. The goal was for the cuts to be so painful for both sides that they’d be forced to put aside partisan bickering and actually cooperate for the good of the country.

Well, that didn’t happen, and the sequester has begun to kick in, causing budgetary pain throughout the government. Each side is loudly blaming the other, but nobody seems to be doing anything meaningful to fix things.

But stop for a moment and consider, what if this was the exact goal from the outset? Think about it – we (the United States) needed to drastically reshape our governmental spending, and it needed to cause pain for areas which are staunchly defended by either the Democrats or the Republicans (or both).

If the two sides had cooperated and jointly passed a bipartisan budget that instantiated these sweeping cuts, they could be vilified by challengers in the upcoming elections because they were ‘soft’, and ‘compromised’, and ‘sold out’ the ‘core values’ of their own constituency.

But with the sequester, the cuts are getting made by some mysterious ‘automatic’ process, while both sides get to blame the other for being obstinate. So in the upcoming elections, the incumbents can say, hey, put me back in the ring to go another 15 rounds against those evil other guys who forced the sequester by being big dummies and hating everything that *we* stand for! I’ll show

Why I’m Voting the Way I’m Voting

Posted on October 23rd, 2012 in Commentary,Engineerboy,Politics by EngineerBoy

Vote!

Note: I’m just a dumbass with a blog.  My purpose in writing this post is not to convince anyone to change their opinions, but to (one hopes) maybe have the slight effect of making sure that those who agree with, disagree with, or don’t care about my opinions will be more likely to vote next week.  Having every eligible voter vote is the key to keeping America free and strong, in my opinion, and discourse tends to motivate people.

I’m a 51 year old white male who is mid-to-upper middle class. I got my first job when I was 12 years old (paper route) and have never not worked since then. I’ve never been fired or laid off, some of which is luck and some of which is brains and hard work. I’ve lived on the West and East coasts, but have lived primarily in Texas and consider myself a Texan.

My mother’s family were Texas farmers, and she and her seven siblings picked cotton, tended the animals, and used slop buckets. I did not come from money, but I was raised with a strong work ethic, a strong moral compass, a strong family bond, and an open mind.

Through the decades I have voted for Republican, Democratic, and independent candidates. For most of my life I strove to vote for the person, not the party, with the (perhaps naive) thought that if we always select the best available candidate, that will lead to better government.

However, that only works if the elected parties are willing and able to compromise in the pursuit of (what should be) common goals. However, the American political landscape is at its most divisive in my memory.  Personally, I think the system is broken, and our voting is barely more than political theater, a show that is put on every four years to allow us to retain the illusion that We the People run this country.

Also, my take is that, by definition, any candidate for national political office is a combination of professional liar, megalomaniac, and borderline sociopath, something I talked about several years ago.  I see our choice as being between differing styles of lies and misdirection.

However, even if any of the above were true, we still do have a choice.  Politically I lean towards fiscal conservatism and also towards social liberalism.  Here are my key areas of concern for this country:

Control of the federal deficit
Revamp of health care
Free and fair elections
Maintain a strong defense and leadership of the Free World
Strengthening of civil liberties and civil rights
Return to technological leadership
Improved national and global economy

I am not an expert on all of the above topics (just like 99.9% of all voters), but I do have my opinions (just like 99.999999% of citizens).  As noted in the disclaimer above, I’m just a dumbass with a blog, but my take on these key points is as follows:

Federal Deficit
I think that balancing the budget will be best achieved through both spending

Just for today…

Posted on September 11th, 2012 in Commentary,Engineerboy,Politics by EngineerBoy

#peace

Mourn the dead, honor the heroes, fight injustice, embrace freedom, celebrate life, and, on today of all days, forget to hate.

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Peace.

The rational case for Voter ID

Posted on August 28th, 2012 in Commentary,Engineerboy,Politics by EngineerBoy

Vote!

It may come as a surprise to some of you who know me to hear that I am in favor of Voter ID.  I think that having a standardized method of identifying valid voters, and limiting those voters to a single vote, is a great idea.  I don’t think we have much of an in-person voter fraud problem in the United States, but I’m a big believer in being better safe than sorry.

However, my objection to the current spate of Voter ID laws is that, from my perspective, they have been designed for no purpose other than to disenfranchise Democratic voters in Republican-controlled states during the upcoming 2012 elections.  You can quibble with this if you like, but given that there is not an in-person, voter identity fraud problem in this country, these laws are not designed to fix something that’s broken.  As they stand today, they are designed solely to limit the ability to vote for those who do not currently have a proper photo ID and who would have difficulty in getting one in time to vote, which are primarily poor/Democratic voters.

I currently live a lifestyle such that having a valid, acceptable form of photo identification is not something I ever have to think about.  I have a drivers license and a passport, and although they aren’t always 100% current (because I’m lazy and/or forgetful), I can easily afford the time and costs involved to keep them up to date, and have easy access to all necessary supporting documentation.

However, that has not always been the case for me, and isn’t the case for many, many Americans.  These Americans still have a right to vote, however, even if they have not navigated the myriad processes necessary to obtain an acceptable photo ID and to keep it current.  Again, for those of us of a certain means, it may sound ludicrous to state that having a valid photo ID is a burden, but it is for a large number of people.

As an indicator, current estimates indicate that 6% of Americans don’t have broadband internet access today.  To those of us who are ‘connected’, it’s difficult to conceive of someone living a disconnected lifestyle.  Some of the disconnected simply choose not to connect even though they have the means, but many of them do not have the wherewithal or circumstance that allows for digital connectivity.

Now picture a disconnected person trying to get a photo ID.  How do they even learn the process?  Go down to the DMV? What if they don’t drive and there isn’t mass transportation where they live?  What if they work a job where getting away during municipal office hours is difficult or impossible?  What if they don’t have a copy of their birth certificate?  What if the cost of getting their birth certificate and/or photo ID comes down to a choice between feeding their children or getting an ID?

Consider not only the costs for documents,

Five Theories about Romney’s selection of Ryan

Posted on August 14th, 2012 in Commentary,Engineerboy,Politics by EngineerBoy

2012 Presumptive Republican Presidential Ticket

I will start this post out with the disclaimer that I am just a dumbass with a blog, noodling on things that interest me.

After Mitt Romney became the presumptive Republican nominee, I became very curious about who he would select as his running mate, and am surprised that he picked Paul Ryan.  Picking Ryan doesn’t make any sense to me because, as far as I can tell, Ryan will primarily appeal to folks who would have voted for Romney anyway.  So, from that perspective, it seems to me that picking Ryan was ‘preaching to the choir’, in a sense.

Also, it seems to me that if the selection of Ryan is going to have any impact at all, it will be to alienate swing voters, who tend to be moderate.  Based on current polling numbers it seems that Romney needs as many of those voters as he can get.

So, why would Romney pick such a polarizing running mate?  I offer five theories below, in order of likelihood from least to most (with a bonus sixth theory that is probably the most likely of all):

Theory #1: Romney doesn’t want to win, and has picked a running mate that will insure that he loses.

It is not possible for me to know why Romney wouldn’t want to win, and there is no evidence of it that I’m aware of (other than his selection of Ryan).  But, because he has picked a running mate that I think he knows will hurt his chances, we have to at least consider this option.  I speculated along these same lines in 2008 when McCain picked Sarah Palin.

Theory #2: Romney knows that he is going to win, so he picked whoever he damn well pleased.

How could Romney *know* he’s going to win?  It could be that he has an ace up his sleeve that he knows will be devastating enough to win the election (dirt on Obama, etc).  It could also be that there is some currently-hidden aspect of Ryan that will emerge and swing the election for him.  It could also be that the power brokers have arranged things such that a win for Romney is the most likely thing.  In any case, if Romney felt supremely confident that he was going to win regardless of his selection of running mate, he may have gone ahead and selected the running mate who will most boldly represent the Republican strategy, and that’s Ryan.

Theory #3: Romney knows that he isn’t going to win, and so picked a running mate for politically expedient purposes.

In this scenario, Romney has realized that there’s no way he can win for whatever reason (polling numbers, tax return issue, etc), and so he picked his running mate in order to maximize whatever positives there are that can be gleaned from a losing presidential bid.  For example, it may be that

CleverDonkey’s Final 2012 London Olympic Power Rankings

Posted on August 12th, 2012 in Engineerboy,Politics,Sports,Television by EngineerBoy

London Olympics 2012

2012-08-12 Final Sunday Update

This year we once again tracked Olympic Power Rankings for the 2012 Games in London.  For reference, the 2008 final rankings are located here. The purpose of this chart is to look beyond raw medal count – who cares if countries with hundreds of millions (or even billions) of people win a lot of medals?  They should win a lot of medals, right?  The big question is, which country is kicking ass, pound-for-pound?  The answer is in the table below.

This table creates a weighted medal score by giving every country three points for each gold medal, two points for each silver, and one point for each bronze.  The country’s Power Rating is calculated by determining how many weighted medal points each country wins per 10,000,000 in population.  And to factor in economics, the population only includes those living above the poverty level (according to CIA poverty estimates).  Also, to eliminate the impact of outliers, countries with excessively large populations are capped at 300,000,000 and countries with exceedingly small populations have a floor of 2,000,000 for the purposes of calculation.

Below is the Sunday update, reflecting the final standings.  Congratulations to Hungary for taking the title of the most powerful Olympic nation, pound for pound.  The rest of the top ten are rounded out by Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Cuba, Jamaica, Belarus, the United States, and the Czech Republic.

Well, that wraps up another Olympics, be sure to check back in four years because we will (probably) be tracking them again!

 

 

 

CleverDonkey’s 2012 Olympic Power Rankings
click column headers to sort up/down

Olympic Power Rank Country Old Power Rating New Power Ranking! Gold Silver Bronze Total Medals Weighted Medals Population (above poverty line)
1 HUN - Hungary 43.14 37.00 8 4 5 17 37 8,577,282
2 AUS - Australia 28.66 28.66 7 16 12 35 65 22,682,201
3 GBR - Great Britain 26.15 26.15 29 17 19 65 140 53,545,320
4 NZL - New Zealand 58.64 26.00 5 3 5 13 26 4,434,060
5 NED - Netherlands 25.37 25.37 6 6 8 20 38 14,978,787
6 CUB - Cuba 24.00 24.00 5 3 6 14 27 11,247,925
7 JAM - Jamaica 106.22 24.00 4 4 4 12 24 2,259,366
8 BLR - Belarus 34.81 24.00 3 5 5 13 24 6,895,247
9 USA - United States 8.44 22.50 46 29 29 104 225 266,579,208
10 CZE - Czech Republic 21.97 21.00 4 3 3 10 21 9,558,825
11 CHN - China 1.63 19.00 38 27 22 87 190 1,166,805,100
12 KAZ - Kazakhstan 18.23 18.23 7 1 5 13 28 15,361,812
13 DEN - Denmark 35.15 17.00 2 4 3 9 17 4,836,400
14 AZE - Azerbaijan 19.47 16.00 2 2 6 10 16 8,219,239
15 RUS - Russia 12.46 15.50 24 25 33 82 155 124,368,673
16 KOR - South Korea 15.01 15.01 13 8 7 28 62 41,293,000
17 SWE - Sweden 14.74 14.00 1 4 3 8 14 9,495,113
18 CRO - Croatia 36.95 13.00 3 1 2 6 13 3,518,302
19 UKR - Ukraine 12.49 12.49 6 5 9 20 37 29,632,961
20 GER - Germany 12.29 12.29 11 19 14 44 85 69,170,855
21 GEO - Georgia 29.55 12.00 1 3 3 7 12 4,061,333
22 ROU - Romania 11.98 11.98 2 5 2 9 18 15,024,877
23 FRA - France 10.93 10.93 11 11 12 34 67 61,298,300
24 SUI - Switzerland 13.51 10.00 2 2 0 4 10 7,403,871
25 LTU - Lithuania 32.68 10.00 2 1 2 5 10 3,060,192
26 NOR - Norway 17.91 9.00 2 1 1 4 9 5,025,600
27 ESP - Spain 8.91 8.91 3 10 4 17 33 37,040,929
28 KEN - Kenya 8.89 8.89 2 4 5 11 19 21,374,500
29 ITA - Italy 8.72 8.72 8 9 11 28 53 60,813,326
30 IRL - Ireland 18.45 8.00 1 1 3 5 8 4,335,898
31 CAN - Canada 7.91 7.91 1 5 12 18 25 31,591,858
32 SLO - Slovenia 38.79 7.00 1 1 2 4 7 1,804,673
33 SRB - Serbia 10.78 7.00 1 1 2 4 7 6,494,047
34 MGL - Mongolia 40.48 7.00 0 2 3 5 7 1,729,152
35 JPN - Japan 6.16 6.60 7 14 17 38 66 107,125,200
36 TRI - Trinidad and Tobago 54.86 6.00 1 0 3 4 6 1,093,703
37 TUN - Tunisia 5.84 5.84 1 1 1 3 6 10,268,196
38 PRK - North Korea 5.70 5.70 4 0 2 6 14 24,554,000
39 RSA - South Africa 5.54 5.54 3 2 1 6 14 25,293,379
40 POL - Poland 5.01 5.01 2 2 6 10 16 31,955,830
41 SVK - Slovakia 11.62 5.00 0 1 3 4 5 4,301,806
42 DOM - Dominican Republic 9.16 5.00 1 1 0 2 5 5,459,372
43 COL - Colombia 4.44 4.44 1 3 4 8 13 29,278,616
44 IRI - Iran 4.09 4.09 4 5 3 12 25 61,096,681
45 LAT - Latvia 19.32 4.00 1 0 1 2 4 2,070,371
46 ARM - Armenia 18.57 4.00 0 1 2 3 4 2,153,942
47 FIN - Finland 7.39 4.00 0 1 2 3 4 5,413,250
48 BEL - Belgium 4.31 4.00 0 1 2 3 4 9,286,674
49 GRN - Grenada 460.83 3.00 1 0 0 1 3 65,100
50 BAH - Bahamas 93.53 3.00 1 0 0 1 3 320,768
51 EST - Estonia 28.10 3.00 0 1 1 2 3 1,067,745
52 PUR - Puerto Rico 8.05 3.00 0 1 1 2 3 3,725,789
53 BUL - Bulgaria 5.21 3.00 0 1 1 2 3 5,759,094
54 BRA - Brazil 1.97 2.80 3 5 9 17 28 142,358,607
55 UZB - Uzbekistan 2.78 2.78 1 0 3 4 6 21,551,316
56 ARG - Argentina 2.49 2.49 1 1 2 4 7 28,081,967
57 ETH - Ethiopia 2.35 2.35 3 1 3 7 14 59,699,259
58 MNE - Montenegro 34.54 2.00 0 1 0 1 2 579,107
59 CYP - Cyprus 23.84 2.00 0 1 0 1 2 838,897
60 BOT - Botswana 14.08 2.00 0 1 0 1 2 1,420,645
61 GAB - Gabon 12.79 2.00 0 1 0 1 2 1,564,000
62 QAT - Qatar 11.77 2.00 0 0 2 2 2 1,699,435
63 MDA - Moldova 7.62 2.00 0 0 2 2 2 2,623,352
64 SIN - Singapore 3.94 2.00 0 0 2 2 2 5,076,700
65 GUA - Guatemala 2.95 2.00 0 1 0 1 2 6,768,331
66 GRE - Greece 2.32 2.00 0 0 2 2 2 8,630,152
67 POR - Portugal 2.31 2.00 0 1 0 1 2 8,660,523
68 TUR - Turkey 1.77 1.77 2 2 1 5 11 62,095,868
69 VEN - Venezuela 1.52 1.52 1 0 0 1 3 19,710,969
70 UGA - Uganda 1.40 1.40 1 0 0 1 3 21,410,870
71 MEX - Mexico 1.31 1.31 1 3 3 7 12 91,891,288
72 ROC - Republic of China (Taipei) 1.29 1.29 0 1 1 2 3 23,261,747
73 MAS - Malaysia 1.10 1.10 0 1 1 2 3 27,257,438
74 ALG - Algeria 1.05 1.05 1 0 0 1 3 28,567,000
75 BRN - Bahrain 8.10 1.00 0 0 1 1 1 1,234,571
76 KUW - Kuwait 2.79 1.00 0 0 1 1 1 3,582,054
77 TJK - Tajikistan 2.73 1.00 0 0 1 1 1 3,666,000
78 HKG - Hong Kong 1.41 1.00 0 0 1 1 1 7,103,700
79 THA - Thailand 0.83 0.83 0 2 1 3 5 60,175,617
80 IND - India 0.09 0.80 0 2 4 6 8 907,645,067
81 AFG - Afghanistan 0.61 0.61 0 0 1 1 1 16,320,064
82 EGY - Egypt 0.61 0.61 0 2 0 2 4 65,934,400
83 KSA - Saudi Arabia 0.37 0.37 0 0 1 1 1 27,136,977
84 MAR - Morocco 0.36 0.36 0 0 1 1 1 27,729,125
85 INA - Indonesia 0.15 0.30 0 1 1 2 3 205,963,737

The coming Muslim-Christian coalition in the US?

Posted on December 28th, 2011 in Commentary,Engineerboy,Politics by EngineerBoy

Can't we all just get along? Probably not any time soon...

Disclaimer: the article below represents the noodlings of a dumbass who is talking about things way over his head, but which he nonetheless found interesting as a mental exercise.

James Buchanan was the first bachelor US President.  JFK was the first Roman Catholic President.  Richard Nixon was the first to resign from office.  Barack Obama was the first African American President.  That leaves some interesting milestones still ahead of us, such as first female, first (openly) gay, and first (openly) atheist/agnostic.

I think there’s a good chance that we’ll hit all of those milestones, at some point, and that it’s just a matter of ‘when’.  I also think we’ll hit them in that order (female, gay, secular).  And I also think that as we hit each milestone, it will create a greatly increasing disturbance among conservative US voters.

The first milestone, female, will not have any overtly negative reaction at home or abroad.  There have been plenty of female heads of state, and anybody who publicly takes issue with that will be nearly universally condemned as a backwards nincompoop.

However, the next one (first gay) would set up the beginnings of a political holy war, as the groups who are anti-gay are really committed to being anti-gay.  These are people who put the behavior of same-sex consenting adults in the same category as child molestation or bestiality.  They will see a gay US President as the beginning of the end of the world, and will fight against it appropriately.

But the last one (first secular) would potentially set up an actual Holy War (notice the caps).  There was a recent survey that showed that people of faith trust atheists to the same level that they trust rapists.  Yes, really.  And a group with that outlook is going to work diligently (to say the least) to prevent it from happening.

Just as an exercise (not a prediction), I could see the future of Presidential politics progressing thusly (major party candidates, unless otherwise specified):

2012 – Obama re-elected, possible female VP (Clinton)
2016 – female President
2020 – gay VP nominee
2024 – gay Presidential nominee
2028 – secular serious 3rd party Presidential candidate
2032 – gay President, secular VP nominee
2036 – secular President

Yes, that goes 24 years into the future, and that seems like forever.  But consider if we were to look backwards, 24 years ago was the election of George H.W. Bush.  Not that long ago, for some of us.  Again, that is not a prediction as much as one possible future outcome, the likelihood of which is open to debate.

However, regardless of the actual dates and progression, I think we’ll eventually see female, gay, and secular presidents in the US, and that that progression of events will stir ever increasing ire among conservative Christian US voters.

Interestingly enough, there is another group whose reactions would, in my estimation, parallel those of conservative Christian US

A Day in the Life of a Typical American, or how I learned to stop worrying and not be hypocritical about ‘socialism’

Posted on August 16th, 2009 in Commentary,Engineerboy,Health and Fitness,Politics by EngineerBoy
Keep the Government Out Of My Life!

Keep the Government Out Of My Life!

A day in the life of a typical American:

Your alarm clock rings, having been powered through the night with an uninterrupted flow of electricity generated by a power company that is a regulated monopoly.

Your alarm clock didn’t catch fire overnight, nor did any other product in your house, because their safety is regulated by consumer product watchdog agencies and federal trade regulations. 

However, if you had somehow had an accidental fire, you could have picked up your phone (regulated monopoly) and called 9-1-1 (municipal service) and had the fire department (municipal service) on site within minutes saving your home and possessions.

As you move through your morning routine in your house, which is still standing because it has been built to meet building codes, you turn on your television and watch the news and weather channels, both controlled by the FCC.

You get an accurate weather forecast from the NOAA, which has gotten detailed satellite imagery from NASA, and see that today will be rainy.  Fortunately, your drive to work will be unimpeded because the local flood plain has been scrupulously mapped and flood control reservoirs and runoff controls have been established to protect you from all but the most egregious conditions.

You eat your breakfast, which doesn’t kill you because of FDA controls, and maybe take your medicines, which also don’t kill you.

You get in your car for your commute, secure in the knowledge that your government-mandated seat belts, air bags, and anti-lock brakes will help protect you from the weather, and your tires meet the government codes for handling on slick streets – as do the tires of all the other cars on the road.

The roads do not wash away in the rain because they are built to meet government codes for roadways, and you check the clock – which is 100% accurate because it is synchronized with the atomic clock at the US Naval Observatory via the nationwide radio signal – and see that you’ll make it to work with time to spare.

You drop your kids off at public school, then you stop for gas, secure in the knowledge that the gasoline is free from impurities and meets the operating requirements of your vehicle, and will be delivered via a mechanism that is 100% compatible with every vehicle on the road by virtue of governmental standards.

You live through the work day in an office that meets OSHA standards, and have your lunch in a cafeteria where the food is safe by virtue of regular inspections and staff training mandated by the government.  You get your paycheck, as guaranteed by law for the work you have performed, and head for home.

Your drive home is not interrupted by criminal activity or civil unrest, because the local police officers, sherrifs, constables, and guard forces ensure the peace and tranquility of society.  Also, when you arrive home, you find that your house has not been

The Closing of Guantanamo Bay and the Return of the Real “Real America”

Posted on January 25th, 2009 in Commentary,Politics by EngineerBoy
Lawyer??  What's a lawyer?!!?

Lawyer?? What's a lawyer, you maggot?!!?

“As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.” – excerpted from President Obama’s inaugural address

 

The United States is a country of breathtaking highs and soul-crushing lows.  One of the lowest low points in American history is the tragic reality of the Guantanamo Bay detention area, also known as Gitmo.  For over one hundred years the US Navy has maintained this base on the southern tip of the island of Cuba.  The proximity of the base to the US mainland coupled with its location in a country with whom we have no diplomatic relations has made Gitmo a unique asset for the US government.

The fact that it was not on US soil means that the laws of the United States did not apply.  The fact that it was located in a country where we have no diplomatic relations means we did not have to care about what the host country thought of our activities there.

The Bush administration took advantage of these facts to create a specialized prison to hold what were called “enemy combatants”, which they defined as anybody the President said was involved in terrorism against the United States.  Think about that for a minute – all it took to be sent to Gitmo was the President stating that you were an enemy combatant.  No trial.  No jury.  No lawyers.  No hearings.  No rights.  No Constitution.  No Geneva Convention.  Nothing.  Just imprisonment by Presidential fiat.

Sounds like the old Soviet Union to me, doesn’t it?  Remember those days, when the USSR would throw comrades into prison for political reasons and just make them disappear?  Remember how outraged we were by that?  But with the dawn of the “War on Terror” we ended up with our own American Gulag.  Now, we did not imprison millions at Gitmo, only hundreds, but that doesn’t make it any less wrong.  Picture a serial killer who murders 25 people and compare him to a dictator who causes the genocide of hundreds of thousands.  Do we forgive the serial killer because of the smaller scope of his crime?  Of course not.  The nature of the crime is so heinous that scale doesn’t matter.

And such is the case here.  We, the United States of America, took foreign nationals from foreign soil and imprisoned them with no rights or due process, with no method to appeal their case, without even a sentence to mark the time – just open-ended imprisonment until such time as we decided we wanted to do something with them.

Quite frankly, my opinion is that Bush and Cheney

“President Obama” = I’m Proud to Be an American

Posted on November 4th, 2008 in Commentary,Politics by EngineerBoy

President Obama

I’m a 47-year-old, white, male, upper-middle-class Texan.  And tonight I am proud to be an American.  We have lived up to the fundamental precept of this country – all men are created equal.  As a country, we make mistakes, we follow ill-advised paths towards unwarranted goals, we stick our heads in the sand about the large issues while simultaneously wailing and gnashing our teeth about unimportant bullshit.  But we also self-correct.  We blink our eyes, shake our head, stand up, look around, assess, re-evaluate, and take action.  So far in our history it’s been two steps forward for each step back, meaning we keep making progress, even if we get off track for short periods.

I don’t love or hate Barack Obama, I don’t love or hate John McCain.  Neither are angels or devils.  Neither would have been my first choice, but neither were horrific.  I don’t know if Barack Obama will be a good president, and I don’t know if he’ll be a bad one.  But I know he’ll be different, and different is what we need.  We needed to break cleanly and clearly, unequivocally, from the last eight years.  We needed to show the world, and ourselves, that we had enough guts and wisdom to admit our mistakes and change course.

And we did.  Barack Obama will be our next president.  A black man.  The fact that I’ve lived to see the first black US president fills me with pride and emotion.  And patriotism.  And optimism.  I hope to live long enough to also see the first woman, the first gay, the first atheist, the first Jew, the first Muslim, and first of every other wrongly oppressed minority get a chance to occupy the Oval Office, as long as they are qualified patriots.

I look forward to seeing the next phase for America under our new president.  I hope, and actually expect, that we will be able to set aside our petty differences, quibbles, and dogma and come together with President Obama to do less of what we’re doing wrong and do more of what we’re doing right…in order to form a more perfect union.

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