US Elections

I’m not voting.Here is my proxy vote – use it wisely.

Posted on 4 November, 2008. Filed under: US Elections | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

For almost two years the world, well OK, I, have closely observed the wheeling and dealing, the shaking and stirring, the positioning and the posturing of US politicians, vying for the position of the most powerful leader in the world. From the beginning, the Republican stable was uninspiring, bland, and predictable. It was the Democratic hand that excited and inspired from the word go: John Edwards, with his passion for the working classes, Barack Obama, young, energetic, and African-American, literally, and Hillary Clinton, the dynamite woman of politics. Even then, the themes of change and experience rang clearly through all the speeches and advertisements.

Now, it’s whittled down to 2 choices. (Well, sorry, independents, in 2012 I’ll pay more attention to you guys, and I do think the USA do you and the people a great disservice by ignoring you so much.) But today, less than an hour before the first polling station opens, I want to stick to the two main players in the race. If you have read my previous posts, or you know me, then you know where my support lies. At first I was really torn-up with the choice between Hillary and Barack, but once that was resolved, my position was clear. Unequivocally, I support Barack Obama. To a large extent it was a knee jerk choice, but I hate those, so today, I want to analyse and motivate my choice to myself, and to you.

I’ve heard pundits complain that Obama’s had a free pass, and that the media has not investigated issues as much as they should have. I don’t fully agree with the statement. I think that in the case of many issues raised, the public simply indicated that based on what was presented, it did not scare them, and would not sway their decision, and so the media moved on. Association and acquaintances simply paled in significance to the economy and two wars. But if Obama got a free pass, then make no mistake, so did McCain. Nobody really wanted to scrutinise allegation and insinuations regarding his POW years and his military record, planes crashed, bad behaviour. The swift-boat tactic wasn’t going to float this year. The Keating five, his temper outbursts, his emotional stability, all was given but scant attention. Sarah Palin, the running mate that nobody had even heard of three months ago, was ridiculed for the obvious, but superficial. Her abuses of office, the involvement of her husband in her governing, his and her ties to the AIP, Trooper Gate and the controversial Alaska oil pipeline were largely ignored. And nobody will touch her irresponsible behaviour with regards to the circumstances surrounding baby Trig’s birth. (Flying that late in a risk pregnancy, etc…)

On the topic of associations, again, for every dubious association of Obama’s, you can dig up one (or more) for McCain. Ex-domestic terrorist for ex-domestic terrorist, controversial pastor for controversial pastor, corrupt businessman for corrupt businessman. McCain can even trump with some mob connections, and communist military dictators. But who’s counting?

McCain keeps telling us he’s been tested, and he has. But the POW test more than 30 years ago does not count in a presidential election today. Presumably the president of the USA will not fall into enemy hands and be tortured to reveal the the secret location of the white house wine cellar. The tests that do count for president are these:

Calling the Iraq war                                            Obama 1    McCain 0

Calling the economic ressession                       Obama 1    McCain 0

Choosing a suitable VP                                       Obama 1    McCain 0

Ability to stay calm under fire                            Obama 1    McCain 0

Ability to run a big campaign                             Obama 1    McCain 0                                                             (as an analogy for running government)

So yes, Senator McCain, you have been tested, but no, you did not, in fact, pass the test. Any of them. Not the ones that matter here and now, at any rate. But Senator Obama did.

On issues of education, health, social services and the environment, Obama is my man. His compassionate, forward-looking approach to these issues might be far left (is it really, though?), but I’ll take it any day over McCain’s “each man for himself” pro-big money, pro-instant gratification approach to life. (Drilling not being the solution to anything except mucking up the planet even more, and putting money in the pockets of big oil companies.)

After one debate, the second. I think, Obama was criticized for frequently agreeing with McCain, or affirming his positions. The McCain campaign even tried to exploit it in their ads. I saw it as an example of Obama’s statesmanship, managing to reach across the aisle, something McCain constantly claims as his trademark. But while McCain tells, Obama shows. And how does McCain treat it? With ridicule, and trying to manipulate it for his own purposes. In fact, throughout the campaign, while Obama did not hesitate to take McCain on on issues, he always praised and honoured him for his service to the country. McCain, on the other hand, regularly treated “that on” with contempt.

Overall, I am less than impressed by McCain’s unpredictable, at times grumpy, erratic, full-of-energy-today, out-of-steam-tomorrow, doddering demeanor. I am bowled over by Obama’s calm yet energetic, nerves and spine of steel, caring image.

I don’t like McCain’s tough guy, brawny behaviour. Nobody expects him to go and fight a war, that’s what the army is there for. I’ll take Obama the brain, who will diplomatically and strategically try to avoid conflict, and if it won’t be avoided, he can use his intellect to wisely direct the army. Because that is what one expects a president to do. Not to physically lead the charge on the battleground.

On the issue of first lady, the intelligence, humility, charm, grace and poise of Michelle Obama is extraordinary. Enough said.

As a South African, how is this any of my business? Because America is a city upon a hill. At the moment, the name of that city is Mordor. I don’t expect Obama to work miracles, but even if he just butts out of everyone else’s business, that will be an improvement. If he changes and improves the way the USA interacts with the world, it will be a boon. I look forward to more caring, and less greed. More talking and less threatening. More friendship, and less parenting. And there is always the slight possibility that he’ll change the city into Shangri-La.

Now as I, disenfranchised citizen of the free world, cannot vote in this election that will impact on the whole world, I give you my proxy vote. Please use it. Get out there and go vote! Don’t get it wrong again, America. The cross goes next to Obama!

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Philosophy of BO.

Posted on 29 October, 2008. Filed under: US Elections | Tags: , , , , , , |

As a non-US American, or any other kind of American, my interest at the onset of the US presidential campaigns was to find the dove, rather than the hawk, and even early on the choice was clear. Having satisfied myself on that point, I then started looking at other differences between the two candidates. In the end, it came down to how they view the world.

I concluded that McCain is a Darwinist – embracing a work-your-way-to-the-top, survival-of-the-fittest philosophy. It’s all about me, me, ME! The problem with this being that, no matter how hard you work, how strong you are, there are only room for so many at the top. If you can’t get one of those spots, it’s tough luck, and you probably didn’t deserve to be there in the first place. It doesn’t recognise that your seat on the top perch is dependent on many other people’s sweat, tears, and yes, sometimes even their blood. And without them, your whole palace of cards would just come tumbling down.

Obama, on the other hand, is the guy who organises the community to go and build a neighbour’s barn. (Not as un-American as some would have us believe!) He sees the world and its people as inter-connected and inter-dependent. And it saddens me when I see some so-called Hillary Clinton’s supporters rallying behind McCain. Hillary gave us “It takes a village to raise a child.” This is essentially the same philosophy as Obama’s. I cannot think of a greater betrayal of Hillary than to go and support a man whose philosophy is anathema to everything she stands for! (Not to mention how uttering her name in the same breath as Sarah Palin’s is the biggest insult I can imagine.)

So, do I want to live in a world where it’s each one for him/herself, or in a “one for all and all for one”  world?

Just get me a horse and call me D’Artagnan!

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Dinosaurs and fruit flies

Posted on 25 October, 2008. Filed under: US Elections | Tags: , , , |

On Friday, Sarah Palin gave a policy speech outlining her and John McCain’s policy and commitment to supporting families of children with special needs.  A cause I applaud. Recent years have seen an unbelievable escalation in special needs, autism in particular being diagnosed with alarming frequency. The emotional, physical and material burden this places on families are tremendous, and especially in the case of poor and single parent families, devastating. I think it is crucial that the government reach out to help these families. (Is that terribly socialistic?)

Perhaps her speech would have carried more weight if her track record spoke to it, but she carries around the albatross of having slashed funds for a special Olympics programme in Alaska. But I guess that was before she herself was the mother of a special needs child. (A mean socialist, I am.)

The thing that bothered me most, though, relates to fruit flies. Government funding for research into silly things like fruit flies is just wasteful, says Mrs Palin. Well, go to an agricultural area and tell that to farmers whose crops are being damaged by fruit flies, I say. I guess she would say the same about funding research into Ips beetles. University of Colorado is spending, sorry, I mean wasting, some more money on those pesky little critters. But I’m sure that environmentally friendly Mrs Palin doesn’t mind that these 1/8 to 3/8 inch long babies are busy destroying entire forests. Of course, the real irony here is that it was a study on fruit flies that detected proteins that might help us to better understand autism.

The flies served to highlight a problem I have with Sarah Palin, and indeed, many other people. She basks in ignorance. For a woman raised by educators, she shows a determined lack of regard for the virtues of education and the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. With her attacks on the elite, and academics, oh no, sorry that was Ms Bachman, (how did I manage to confuse those two, I wonder?) she forces one to look at her life more closely.

Having led an interesting and colourful life, I, too, can only boast of a bachelor’s degree, which took me quite a while to complete, in many (not consecutive) years. So I will cast no stone, there. But it doesn’t seem as if either of her eldest two are interested in academically improving themselves, nor, indeed, is her son-in-law-to-be. Now to each his own, I agree, and not everyone wishes to go to college or university, but in my experience, in families that place a premium on intellectual pursuits and academics, it is the norm to venture forth to institutes of higher learning. Which leads me to believe that these are not important things in her or her family’s schema. In most people that would be their problem, not mine, but in a woman who strives to become vice president of arguably the largest power in the world, and potentially  its president, it sends chills down my body…

And that brings me to the dinosaurs. I am a Christian. I believe that God created the world. But God, in my eyes, is a God of order, not professor Dumbledor waving a magic wand. I, like many other Christians, and scientists, and Christian scientists, have a worldview in which evolution and Biblical creation not only co-exist, but support each other. And I really do not think it is unreasonable to ask Mrs Palin to tell us, once and for all, whether or not she truly believes that dinosaurs roamed the world until about 6 thousand years ago. Just a simple yes or no answer will do. Because if a member of the flat-earth society was going to occupy a senior office in the White House, wouldn’t you want to know?

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    Welcome to my personal soundboard, where I can muse (you might call it ramble on) about things that interest, irritate, infuriate or impress me. In time, I hope this will lead me to understand the meaning of life, the universe, and me.

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