Archive for the 'democrats' Category

Yes, you caught me… I admit that I was two-timing Broken Spines…

As Gen. David Petraeus has demonstrated for us this last week, even a rock of moral authority can fall from grace.  I know my various interests and activities have kept me from posting on Broken Spines in quite awhile but I felt I need to come back to defend my honor.  There are allegations out there that I have been two-timing by first blog… Broken Spines.  Well, I am here to set the record straight… those allegations are true.  In a moment of weakness, I built a WordPress blog (A Citizen’s Primer) more than five years ago with the intent of recruiting some of my fellow Pugilists to join me to:

“document our positions, ideas, and conclusion on today’s complex political topics.  Why us?  Why not… we feel that we a relatively informed individuals and that when we are able to break down complex topics that are swirling in the political ether we can come up with some plausible solutions that make sense.  We are not claiming to be experts but we do work hard to stay informed on political topics – reading books, magazines, & blogs – watching movies & documentaries – and discussing the issues with friends, family, & colleagues.”

Well, five long years has gone by without a single post until yesterday.  I decided to dust off the cover and share an editorial that I had originally submitted to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  The post was based on my personal frustration with the Republican Party for sitting on their hands over the last two years without one iota of progress or one hint of compromise.  My article was titled “As Minnesota goes, so goes the nation? We need to move beyond a political zero sum game” and it includes ideas for both Minnesota and National Republicans and Democrats to move forward after the election.  Well, there I’ve said it.  Now let the accusations begin, or perhaps… thou who are amongst you who have not sinned shall cast the first stone?

Truth, Lies, & Taboos… how dearly do they cost us?

I have been doing a lot of think lately about several of our societal taboos… specifically talking about religion, politics, and money.  I have always been a fan of the quote “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, which refers to the benefits of openness and transparency.  There was a further suggestion from Louis Grumet, Publisher of The CPA Journal, who offered “We should not only accept criticism and suggestions, we should embrace them.  If questions from constituents, the public, or the media make leaders or other responsible parties obfuscate, the questions are usually valid and the answers are not.  People who feel uncomfortable under the bright light of scrutiny and criticism often have something to hide.”

I am suggesting that this impartive not only holds true for politicians but for all of us and that by conforming to the norms and labeling subjects as taboo we are supporting prejudice, hatred, misinformation, lies, deceit, and unaccountability – we are letting these lies survive in the dark alleyway between Truth & Freedom.  When women like Gayle Quinnell of Shakopee suggested that she didn’t trust Senator Barack Obama and called him “an Arab” at a Lakeville, MN, McCain rally we all thought wow… did she just say that in public?  My next question was, where had Gayle been “hiding” this racism?  Hasn’t she talked with others about the candidates?  Doesn’t she know that Barack is actually a Christian?  If her friends, family members, or fellow parishioners had heard her mention this idea before did no one speak up?  Did no one correct her on the facts?  When we avoid discussing our religious and political beliefs with others who do not agree with us we are protecting ourselves from having difficult or uncomfortable questions that we may not wish to face.  The latest of these taboos is the belief that we should not talk about money with friends, neighbors, or family.  A couple of stories that I thought I would share… 1) two years ago in a local fast food establishment I overheard a couple talking about how their daughter and son-in-law planned to file for bankruptcy immediately after returning from the cruise trip that they were on, 2) a year and a half ago friends were trying to sell their condo and plan for a down payment on their house – they had almost no money in savings but drove new Cadillac and Audi vehicles and spent lavishly on expensive clothes and purses, and finally 3) this weekend I overheard a few patrons talking in a restaurant about how one of them had four different vehicles in four years but had no money.  Where was the sense of responsibility from these people?  Did no one question their actions?  Did no one question their sense of accountability?  We need to again talk about our beliefs and actions… we need to expose them to the light of day… and we need to be more accepting of those who might question us or our motives… or we will continue to provide safehavens for prejudice, hatred, misinformation, lies, deceit, and unaccountability.

Good election numbers website

Track the polls and get insights into the daily horse race:

http://www.electoral-vote.com/

Payroll/Income Tax vs. Capital Gains Tax

A couple of Broken Spines members were talking Friday night with an old friend who revealed that she was supporting McCain and that she had supported Bush in the 2004 election.  The conversation went to taxes and we were discussing the “inequity” of the payroll/income tax vs. capital gains tax.  A suggestion was made that we need to move to a single tax rate avoiding the loopholes for the wealthy in our current tax structure.  We discussed Warren Buffett’s philosophy that the system isn’t fair to the middle class that his income is taxed at a lower rate than the people that he employs (their average rate is 32.9% vs. Buffett’s rate of 17.7%.).

Check out Buffet’s interview with Tom Brokow where he explains how US tax policy has tilted toward the rich and away from the middle class for the last 10 years.  Decide for yourself…

Do voters really vote in their self interest?

In conversations about the recent election I wondered how much people really vote in their self interest.  I came across an interesting article from earlier this year that I thought I would share.  The story from Bryan Caplan of the Washington Post suggests that there are 5 myths of voting.

  1. People vote in their self interests
  2. Unselfish voting will solve our problems
  3. Voters’ errors balance out
  4. Political disagreement is all about values
  5. Voters want serious change

My question is that if these are all myths then when someone invokes one as their reason for voting for a certain candidate what are they really voting for?  For example, when someone invokes that they are voting for McCain out of self interest… why are they really voting for them?  Fear, hatred, prejudice?  What are the underlying issues?

Since when did “lies” and “the truth” become synonyms? Since the GOP came to town!

A few things have been bothering me with this week’s GOP convention in my home town of St. Paul, Minnesota… there were several speeches where I knew that the pundits were lying and I had to ask myself “Since when did it become acceptable to LIE to the American public on national television?”

Well, I wasn’t the only one who had issue with the statements… so were the Momocrats!

·         First – Mike Huckabee:  “And speaking of Governor Palin, I am so tired of hearing about her lack of experience. I want to tell you folks something. She got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States.”  Sarah Palin received more votes for major in Alaska than Biden got for President of the United States?  – False, Sarah got 909 from her town of 5,469 and Joe got 79,754 before dropping out after Iowa.

·         Second – Sarah Palin: “But listening to him speak, it’s easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform – not even in the state senate.”  – False, Barack has sponsored (or co-sponsored) more than 823 bills while in the Illinois State Senate on health care, poverty, crime, civil rights, ethics, the environment, gun control, and immigration.

Sarah Palin for VP? Are you kidding me?

Is it just me or does John McCain seem to be grasping at straws here?  He chooses a 44 year old governor of Alaska that hasn’t had any national or international political experience as his Number Two?  As a matter of fact, she has not even seen two years in office as Governor!  John McCain has bashed Barack Obama for his lack of experience yet would leave the fate of the country in the hands of a novice if he fell ill?  I find it an interesting gamble for McCain… an opportunity to court the female Hillary Clinton supporter but her stance on the issues is the exact opposite of Hillary: she is against a woman’s right to choose an abortion, she is pro-death penalty, and she opposes same sex marriages (while claiming to have gay friends) enough to support a constitutional amendment barring benefits for same sex couples, and she supports the war in Iraq.  An interesting insight from colleague and State Senate President Lyda Green, a Republican who has often feuded with Palin, remarked, “She’s not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?”  Would a woman vote for her just because she is a woman… even if she disagreed with her politics?

Who is Barack Obama?

  From today’s NPR story on “Who is Barack Obama?” the discussion goes beyond the talking points and the policy positions, where guests describe the personality and character of the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.  He is described as a kind, thoughtful, and principled individual.  The guests include:

Dan Rutherford, Illinois state senator who worked on legislation with Obama when he was a state senator

Lisa Hay, classmate of Obama at Harvard Law School and a member of the Harvard Law Review when Obama was its president

David Mendell, wrote about politics and urban issues for the Chicago Tribune and author of Obama: From Promise to Power

The God Delusion vs. Audacity of Hope

Candidates can’t ignore values-based voters

“This much is clear: Presidential candidates ignore the importance of the values-based vote at their peril.”

“[In 2000] White voters identifying with the “religious right” grew from 14 to 17 percent of the total electorate. At the same time, the GOP’s share of the white religious right vote jumped 15 percent: from 65 percent in 1996 to 80 percent.”

“[In 2004] …although the war in Iraq dominated the headlines, it didn’t dominate at the polls. A small plurality of voters cited ‘moral values’ as the most important issue in the campaign; Bush crushed Sen. John Kerry among these voters by a whopping 62-percent margin, 80 percent to 18 percent.”

“‘If white evangelicals had not voted in 2004, Kerry would have beaten Bush by a 53 to 45 percent margin nationwide…'”

And, as such, their first opportunity to share the stage in a “forum” (not debate) will be in a mega-church.

All Fact and No Meaning

The other night I watched “Stranger Than Fiction,” a film written by Zach Helm, directed by Marc Forster, and starring Will Ferrell, the radiant Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, and Queen Latifah.  Ferrell plays an IRS auditor who finds himself the subject of narration only he can hear: narration that begins to affect his entire life, from his work, to his love-interest, to his death.

 

Reluctantly, I admit, I was swept away by Ferrell singing a song by Eric Wreckless, “Whole Wide World,” like Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s song from OnceFalling Slowly”: ”take this sinking  boat and point it home, we’ve still got time / raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice” – what great lyrics.

 

What’s got me in this sappy mood?  Like David Brooks, I am growing weary of the presidential campaign which is “all about message management, polls and tactics. The communication is swift, Blackberry-sized and prosaic. As you cover it, you feel yourself enclosed in its tunnel. Entire mental faculties go unused.”

 

For an escape, Brooks reads an essay written by Michael Ward, “C. S. Lewis and the Star of Bethlehem,”

 

…while we moderns see space as a black, cold, mostly empty vastness, with planets and stars propelled by gravitational and other forces, Europeans in the Middle Ages saw a more intimate and magical place. The heavens, to them, were a ceiling of moving spheres, rippling with signs and symbols, and moved by the love of God. The medieval universe, Lewis wrote, “was tingling with anthropomorphic life, dancing, ceremonial, a festival not a machine.”

 

When we say that a star is a huge flaming ball of gas, he wrote, we are merely describing what it is made of.

 

I am suffering from too many facts and too little meaning.

 

Whole Wide World

By Eric Wreckless

 

When I was a young boy

My mama said to me

There’s only one girl in the world for you

And she probably lives in Tahiti

 

I’d go the whole wide world

I’d go the whole wide world

Just to find her

 

Or maybe she’s in the Bahamas

Where the Carribean sea is blue

Weeping in a tropical moonlit night

Because nobody’s told her ’bout you

 

I’d go the whole wide world

I’d go the whole wide world

Just to find her

I’d go the whole wide world

I’d go the whole wide world

Find out where they hide her

 

Why am I hanging around in the rain out here

Trying to pick up a girl

Why are my eyes filling up with these lonely tears

When there’re girls all over the world

 

Is she lying on a tropical beach somewhere

Underneath the tropical sun

Pining away in a heatwave there

Hoping that I won’t be long

 

I should be lying on that sun-soaked beach with her

Caressing her warm brown skin

And then in a year or maybe not quite

We’ll be sharing the same next of kin

 

I’d go the whole wide world

I’d go the whole wide world

Just to find her

I’d go the whole wide world

I’d go the whole wide world

Find out where they hide her

 

PS Check out Agent Provacateur’s new campaign featuring Maggie.


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