Friday, November 14, 2008

Update on Colorado "Person" amendment

In all the crush of election news I just about forgot about Colorado's noxious cell clump personhood amendment. Well, Coloradans weren't fooled by this poorly disguised anti-abortion amendment and, as Americans have almost universally done in the past few elections, expressed their absolute rejection at the polls.

Despite the fact that this amendment gathered little more than a third of the votes in any individual county, you can be certain the sponsors will be back again to waste taxpayer money, insult our intelligence and test our patience with another ballot measure. As long as they can muster the signatures required they will attempt to wear us down until a women's right to choose is history.

Hear this, American's want abortion to be safe, legal and, as was famously said, rare! We don't want them performed in back alleys. Put your efforts into better health care and education for both men and women so we can avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place. Make sure that there are other options available and take care of all the babies already on this earth who don't have adequate food, shelter and health care.

Ah well, wasted words I'm certain.

HIlary to run Obama State Department?

First off, apologies for not posting recently. I've been playing catch up as I've slowly emerged from my election hangover. News that President Elect Obama is considering Hilary Clinton as his Secretary of State brought me out of my lethargy.

One has to consider the rumor serious. Obama is too astute a politician to allow Hilary's name to come into play without there being serious consideration. I expected the new President to offer Hilary a position in his cabinet but I thought it would be in Health and Human Services, where should could help drive, and improve - in my opinion, his health care plans. I have to say I'm a bit shocked that she's being considered for State.

It's not that Senator Clinton is in any way unqualified for the position. In fact, on the face of it, I believe she would make a fine Secretary of State. My concern is that foreign affairs was the main point of friction and debate between Clinton and Obama during the long primary and the place where each hammered the other most powerfully and effectively. Remember Clinton's 3am calls?

I don't doubt that President Obama can put aside the campaign for the all important business of running the country. Both Clinton and Obama are consumate pros and can do the required dance of elections and actual governance. The question is, was this all about the campaign or are there serious differences on the issues between the two. That's hard to tell at this point. Viewpoints on the war in Iraq appear to be converging across the spectrum at this point. The Iraqis seem more and more united in their desire to get their country back and see our backs. While the timetable may differ, most parties stateside are moving towards a serious reduction of forces in Iraq and an eventual withdrawal, at least of major combat forces.

The only serious debate left seems to be whither Afghanistan. As this wasn't the issue that separated the two primary combatants, it shouldn't be difficult to find common ground and support a unified policy.

Perhaps this can be seen as Obama's first step in putting together the echo of Lincoln's cabinet. A cabinet of, if not his opponents, then at least of strong personalities and independent minds. I think it's something he can pull off. At a minimum it will make for interesting political theatre over the coming months as the cabinet posts become known. John McCain for Secretary of Defense, anyone?

Friday, November 07, 2008

CHANGE.GOV Yes We Can?

Well, I wrote the day after the election how a President Obama could use the resources he built during his campaign to build a new resource to help him govern. Here is the first step, change.gov

This is where you can follow the transition process; learn about the administration, it's transition team and appointees; share your story about the election or your ideas for what the administration should do (ok, I have little faith that this section will be given serious consideration but. . .); learn more about how the government works; learn about the challenges the administration thinks are primary and their ideas for dealing with them; and even apply for jobs in the administration.

Now, I may be mistaken but I don't recall anything like this in 2004. Granted, the Bush administration was already firmly ensconced in power but the Whitehouse site has never been very welcoming in this way. It's always appeared much more a propaganda tool than an educational one or a truly open involving site.

Overall I consider the rapid appearance of this well made, if simple, site to be another sign that this administration will be very effective in office. I've signed up for regular updates and look forward to seeing how they use this site and the rest of the campaign edifice they've built to harness the power of the people to help them truly effect change. Think me naive? I'll be happy to wear that label until the new administration proves it one way or another.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

California's Massive Election Stinkbomb

Well, my joy at last night's election was not undiluted. Unfortunately, we in California saw our constitution polluted by an amendment targeting a specific group and removing some of their rights under law.

Yes folks, I'm talking about that enormous blight on California, proposition 8. This "turdblossom", to steal a Bush moniker, was passed by 52% of my fellow golden state voters. Most people that I spoke with who voted for this amendment believed the outright lies and distortions they'd been fed by proposition's proponents. They were in fear of their children being "taught" gay marriage in public schools. Of course none of them could recall their children being taught straight marriage in public schools, it isn't, but that didn't deter them from voting to deny others a fundamental right on the basis of this fear.

They believed that their churches would be forced to marry homosexuals or face fines and lawsuits despite the clear statements by authorities that this is not the case.

Remember folks, there is no specific gay marriage law that permits gay marriage and requires any attendant changes in other areas of society. There is only a simple reading of the equal protection clause of the California constitution that says no one can be denied their rights or provided with ersatz separate but equal rights under the law. Not sure what's so difficult to understand about that.

Any other battles in the culture wars being fought at the extreme fringe of our society are a separate issue. This one is a simple one about equal rights.

Instead of equal rights, we have now written discrimination into our constitution. Way to go California, two steps forward, one step back. Well, progress is never easy. At least this time around, the bigotry received only a simple majority, which amazingly is all it takes to poison our constitution, 60% to passa damn budget but 50% plus 1 to pass a constitutional amendment. The last time the anti-gay forces, (yes, that's what you are), were at this game, they garnered over 60% of the vote. Just a few years later, we've come a long way. Perhaps soon we can amend the constitution to remove this awful stain.

In the meantime, there are lawsuits to come. How is it that one constitutional amendment can stand in opposition to the basic document itself without modifying that section??? In other words, if the equal protection clause is unmodified and is the basis for the rights of gays and lesbians to marry, then proposition 8 is still unconstitutional unless it directly modifies that clause, which it doesn't. If proposition 8 does, in fact, modify the equal protection clause then it is a revision, not an amendment and must be passed by a different set of rules.

This ain't over yet, my friends. This may go all the way to the supreme court. Personally, I'd rather not see that right now. Hopefully we can resolve this at the state level with the lawsuits that have been filed. If not, I would guess that a few years down the road, the majority of Californians will be ready to repudiate this odious piece of law that reminds me of nothing so much as a remnant of the discredited philosophy of apartheid.

Congratulations President-Elect Obama! Now What?

What a ride. This election has been interminable and I think we're all thankful that it's over. well, maybe most of us, anyway. There will always be a hard core group on the losing side that can't let go and carries the vehemence and vitriol of the election over into the interregnum period. They are caught in a parallel universe of the never ending election. I hope they enjoy it there. I'd find it a horribly noxious place.

For the rest of us, we can now move forward into a new day and with a new American face to show the world.

Congratulations have been pouring in from my friends and relatives around the world. They are, without exception, ecstatic with our choice. Obama's election has reinvigorated many of us who always believed in our country and felt it had the potential to jump over it's own shadow and make such a departure from the past. More importantly, many who had despaired of America have been found their faith in this country reborn. I also believe that the mere fact of a President Obama will make life difficult for many of the hate mongers and anti-American forces abroad that decry our democracy and civil rights a sham. Obama spoke most forcefully on this subject himself, last night.

Now comes the inevitable question, "what now?" Truly that lies in all of our collective hands. The presidency is more than a symbol but it is also not the all powerful position many seem to think. The newly minted President Obama will inherit a horrific economic situation, two ongoing wars and the accumulated debt and deficits of the Bush era. On top of that he will have to deal with the limits of the office, something that Bush simply ignored with the complicity of the Republican - and later Democratic - majority in congress.

I have always argued that the President gets way too much credit for a good economy and too much blame for a bad one. They can, through use of the levers of power of the executive - regulation, enforcement etc. - push things strongly in one direction or another but they do not occupy the brand that makes legislation or sets the budget, that is congresses job. It’s time congress took their role more seriously. If they do, the new President may find one his challenges to be working constructively with congress while resisting it’s worst impulses. I expect President Obama to issue more vetoes, or veto threats, than President Bush. Still, the real power lies in congress and Obama will need a good strategy to deal with congress, even a congress of the same party. His mandate sized victory will help with this task. Many incoming congressmen and senators will have arrived there on the President’s coattails. In general, a large electoral victory provides a new President with significant cover in his dealings with the other branches of government and with the opposition.

President Obama will have another potential ace up his sleeve, though, you and me. Many people, especially on the right, denigrate Obama’s election slogans, “yes we can” and the, admittedly odd and awkward, “we are the change we’ve been looking for” as empty rhetorical devices. I think it’s clear that this President believes these phrases intensely. His entire campaign was built around not only the slogans but the fact of “we” making the change happen. Obama has presented himself as a leader, yes, but also the conduit through which we can personally effect change. During the election we effected change by making those $86 donations, $5, $10 and $25 at a time. We made calls to other voters, cajoling, arguing, encouraging and reminding them to vote for our candidate. We wrote email, we blogged, we spoke out about the issues and how we felt our candidate would be the best to address them. Every campaign depends on volunteers but the Obama campaign took this idea to new heights, making unprecedented use of the new communications technologies to link supporters with the campaign and each other.

I fully expect President Obama to call on us to continue to help him govern the way he asked us to help him achieve this office. Call me na├»ve but I think President Obama would be foolish to abandon such a resource. Aside from the obvious advantage of keeping this tool sharp for his re-election campaign, it is a tool without parallel for demonstrating grass roots voter support for the President’s positions. While there’s certain to be significant fall off in participation on the part of Obama supporters and we shouldn’t be expected to, nor will we, offer our support blindly regardless of the policy, keeping citizens directly involved will invest us in the outcomes and give us ownership of the policies in a way we’ve never experienced before on such a scale.

Obviously, this is not a blunt instrument to be used to bludgeon the President’s opponents and it must be used wisely and infrequently or “we” will quickly tire and grow disillusioned with our newfound involvement. We have lives to lead, jobs and families to attend to and our own local communities to manage. We have representative government for a number of good reasons and this is not meant to supplant that in any way. Rather, much as the many groups we may support ask us to contact our representative about a specific policy, the President may do the same.Such calls are not new. Presidents have requested such support in the past but the new administration possesses tools that previous administrations could not imagine and, as a result, the potency of such a call may be magnified many times over.

I had originally intended to write a simple post expressing my joy at the outcome of the election. And while that joy is undiminished, I felt it important to gird for the work to come. I’m confident that our new President will rise to the challenges that face us. I also hope and believe that he will engage us directly in the process.

Monday, November 03, 2008

More on Hillary Clinton's Support for Obama

Carrie Budoff Brown & Glenn Thrush, over at Politico, have an in depth article on the oft discussed relationship between Obama and the Clintons. The gist of the of the article is that the Clinton's relationship with Obama has deepened and improved over the past months and that they've supported him intensely.

Here's what I think is a salient quote from the article regarding Hillary Clinton's position on Obama vs. McCain. Must read for undecided Hillary Clinton supporters:

"Hillary Clinton’s relationship with her former rival is still constantly evolving.

After it became clear her in the spring that her comeback against Obama would come up short, Hillary Clinton plopped down into the front seat of her campaign plane and shared her thoughts on the general election with a handful of wrung-out staffers.

Clinton, whose relationship with Obama was still tense and tentative at that moment, professed no great affection or admiration for Obama, whom she regarded as less qualified than herself. But she would support him, body and soul, she said, because she was so terrified by the prospect of McCain sitting in the Oval Office. And that was before the credit markets crashed, setting off a domino effect on the U.S. economy.

“John McCain’s my friend; I really like him,” she said, according to a person who was within earshot. “But there’s just no way we can let him be president.”

Clinton’s relationship with Obama has improved markedly since then (although associates say she occasionally betrays her belief that she’s be a better candidate), but friends and associates say her manic work on behalf of her longtime Democratic rival is motivated not so much by Obamaphilia but, rather, by a bone-deep fear of McCain.

“She’s convinced he would destroy the country,” said a source close to the former first lady.

Her impression of McCain has gone even farther south since the troubles on Wall Street surfaced a few weeks ago. When supporters call to complain about Obama, as some still do, she invariably regales them with a polite but steely description of how McCain will drive the country off an economic cliff, people close to her say."
I guarantee you that Hillary knows John McCain better than you do! Think hard before you take that step off the cliff and vote for McCain.

The Bush Administration's Last Minute Gut of Environmental Regs

While we're all distracted by the ongoing election, the Bush administration is using its typical methods for gutting environmental regulation. They simply decree it, change the rule book. . . say it's so and it is. They're leaving the incoming President with a mess to clean up when they should be dealing with more serious issues. Want a power plant right next to your national park? Bush'll give it to you!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081103/pl_nm/us_bush;_ylt=AuQBZsGOtrxj_5Lqfzk_bBcb.3QA

Someone else's view of what this election is about

This links to a very nice article by Jonathan Curley about his experience canvassing for Obama. he's a conservative southerner. It's not highly political but it's an interesting personal perspective.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1103/p09s02-coop.html

Sunday, November 02, 2008

My Predictions for Election 2008

OK, as if anyone cares, I've made my predictions for the outcome of this election. It should come as no surprise that I predict that Obama will win. Assuming I'm correct this will significantly improve my "vote for a winner" percentage since my first presidential election in 1980. I have voted for exactly two winners out of seven. Ouch. I'm really hoping I make some progress towards batting .500!

But that's not much of a prediction, now is it? So, I've gone ahead and made my two - yes, I'm a weasel - election night scenarios over at Yahoo's political dashboard. Man, I do love that flash application. Another tool to feed my addiction this election cycle. If my man does lose I can only imagine how much tinkering I'll do with that map trying to figure out how we could have salvaged this.

Anyway, here are the links to my worst case and best case scenarios.

So, there's only a "slight" three state difference between the two. OK, those three states just happen to be Ohio, Florida and Virginia but what's 60 electoral votes amongst friends?

In my worst case scenario, Obama wins a total of 278 votes by holding on to the Kerry states and cutting a swath through the west with Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. I think he's got those wrapped up pretty well. I also think he's likely to take either Florida or Ohio with him and might very well take both. 278 will do the job and I won't complain if that's how it goes. I do, however, hope that there is a larger, more solidly mandate oriented, majority to take home. I think it will help the country unite behind our new president and that's something we need badly.

In the best case scenario I see Obama picking up Ohio, Florida and Virginia, as I said, for a total of 338, a comfortable margin that meets the "mandate" criteria above, even if it's not a blowout.

I've read other projections that range up to 370 plus for Obama but I'm not all that comfortable with those. I doubt the election can fall to McCain, barring a catastrophe - or "miracle" as those on the right would call it - but I do believe that a large majority of the "undecideds will fall towards McCain. If they haven't been able to get "comfortable" with Obama by now I can't imagine what will push them his way at this stage. A majority is a majority though, it's not ALL the undecideds, which is what would have to happen for McCain to pull it off.

So, I expect a "tightening." That's normal. Unless the leading candidate moves out into landslide election it's natural for the polls and the race itself to narrow somewhat. Narrowing isn't a worry to me, especially in national polling.

So, that's it for Gersh. Nothing earth shattering. . . well, other than the election of our first minority president. While I'm not voting for Obama on that basis, it's something of which I am very very pleased. More on that later.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Founder Owner of Gun Manufacturer Quits over Obama Endorsement

I've read many stories in right wing blogs decrying pressure from the left that supposedly forces people out of their jobs for conservative views. If true, it is wrong, period.

Just to show that this ill wind blows well from the right:

http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2008/10/31/Gun_firm_head_resigns_over_Obama_support/UPI-19331225496140/

And if it's only believable if it comes from the land of the "Fair and Balanced", this:

http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/10/31/montana-gun-manufacturer-urges-obama-endorsing-company-president-resign/

Sorry, no comment. What country is this?

Wow! Obama knows an illegal alien . . .

Amazing, the news has just hit that Senator Obama's Aunt Zeituni is an illegal alien. Damn, Senator Obama knows an illegal alien. How weird is that? I bet none of you know an illegal alien, right? I mean, how could you possibly know an illegal alien, you wouldn't choose to associate with one, now would you?

Let's do the math. According to the GAO and the Pew Research Center there are about 12 million illegal aliens in the US or approximately one in every 25 people. And, of course, you don't know 25 or more people, right? Plus, you don't know THOSE people anyway.

Obama says he didn't know about his Aunt's immigration status but we know that's bunk, right? I mean, I ask all my new friends and any family members about their immigration status. Oh, you think that's racist, do you? Well. . . I ask the white ones too and, and. . . those without accents. No, it's true, I demand proper paperwork before granting friendship or acknowledging family ties. No supporting illegal immigration for me.

I urge everyone to reject this blatant disregard for our laws. Show the Senator from Illinois how it's done. Go out and confront your circle of acquaintances and people you do business with and root out the illegals amongst them! I'm sure you won't find any illegals of course, we already established that you wouldn't even think of having anything to do with anyone like that. So, what's the problem? Get started with your own personal "crusade" today. I'm sure your friends and relatives will all thank you for your interest.
 
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