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27th-Dec-2008 10:01 am - Math Is Hard
I drove in this morning to news of Gaza air strikes and the subsequent killing. Scenes of carnage blanket the the streets and the airwaves. Israel told Hamas that it would strike if Hamas didn't stop the rockets into Israel. Israel said it would target Hamas leaders, and they did. But there are fine lines between killers and the people who live next door. The first strikes came when school children were still at their desks.

Who was it in the Israel military leadership that thought, "That'll teach 'em." Why does the alluring promise of an explosion somehow obscure what we know of human nature and biggest fortune teller, History? How do we continue to think that the young men who woke this morning to find arms and legs and teeth of people they once knew (and maybe loved) would cause them to grow up with dreams of Gandhi and Luther King?

Murder never procures peace. Revenge, be it as military policy or a personal vendetta, promises more. A flesh eating virus that has discovered an infinite supply of food.

I have a friend who hates Dutch Bros. It's an Oregon chain of coffee huts. In the part of Oregon where he did his undergraduate they are more prevalent than Starbucks. And that's why he hates them more than Starbucks, because Dutch Bros has a following. There are "Fueled by Dutch Bros" stickers on cars. The logo decal is as common as the Darwin fish. The people who profess their love of Dutch Bros, he argues, hate Starbucks because it's an evil chain. Dutch Bros fans treat the company and act like the company isn't a chain, when that is exactly what it is. It may be a local chain, but it is still a chain.

I think of this sentiment when I watch the news pick over the latest Obama camp gossip. He ran on basically not being a politician. But he is as Washington as they come, and he proves it daily. This is why I dislike Obama. I hated that he was running on a six letter word. I hate more now that I was right to think he was full of crap when I cast my vote for him. But what I hate more is that he ran on a lie. And I hate that people never questioned the feasibility of his basic campaign promise. You can't run on something you can't do. It's like the high school class president candidate saying he'd like to shorten the school year. You may like his idea, but it isn't possible. How did people think Obama would change Washington when he has to rely on the same people every other politician has? When are we going to demand more of our elected officials? When are we going to get over red vs blue and demand that they actually explain their stances on, well, issues?

It's not Dems vs Republicans. It's us vs them: the American people vs Congress. I've been beginning to have my suspicions of this but the 2 hour extension of the Senate's morning business last week for speeches praising Ted Stevens sort of sealed the deal. The 56 seconds of standing ovation was icing. Here was a man who had been found guilty of 7 felony charges while representing us, and his colleagues felt the necessity to praise him openly. Sure, send him a card. Pat his back on the way out and tell him you're sorry he got a raw deal. Me? I want my money back.
14th-Nov-2008 08:40 am - The Magic Broom
I like watching leaps logic:

CIA director Michael Hayden said a few things as reported by the BBC website. He said, "In fact, he (Osama Bin Laden) appears to be largely isolated from the day-to-day operations of the organization he nominally heads." Followed by, "If there is a major strike on this country, it will bear the fingerprints of al-Qaeda."

Ergo, we are still looking for Bin Laden because getting him would strike a major psychological blow to al-Qaeda. I don't have their ground intelligence (obviously) but doesn't it seem that maybe if Bin Laden is isolated from the day-to-day operations than getting him wouldn't necessarily be a top priority? Shouldn't we instead be figuring out the cost benefit analysis of how many additional Bin Laden's we create by trying to capture Terrorist Zero and you know, go from there?

Read article here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7728551.stm

Right after the election I heard a lot of, "The majority of America wants blah blah blah." We talk about this majority of America much like people talk about foreign aid. In 2001, a think tank found that "the average American believes that the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on assistance to developing nations, more than 20 times the actual figure.*" Twenty-four percent isn't a majority. Obviously. But it is a conflated number. When I hear the word "majority" I think "Holy crap Democrats won 74% of the vote." But the reality is more like 52%. OK, so the electoral college had Obama win by more than that (365 to 162- http://www.realclearpolitics.com/), but I don't give a damn about the electoral college and neither should you. Real Clear Politics has the national results ending up at 52.6% to 46.1%. The way I read that is not that Obama had a huge victory. I read that 2.6 more than half voted for him. So while yes, he did win a majority that means that at least 46.1% of the population isn't real pleased about it. There still is a desperate need for a conversation in this country.

Sometimes while driving I have 3 realizations in quick succession. It always happens while driving and I'm not sure why. Probably because I'm listening to news radio. But here's the triple whammy-
1. Conservatives must be fucking crazy to believe X.
2. Shit, somewhere a conservative thinks I'm fucking crazy to believe Y.
3. You can't recognize crazy people on the street...especially when they look and live exactly like I do.

My point is that I listen to all this media and I take it and I filter it through my life and experiences and morality and get to this point. For example, close Guantanamo. I get to this final point, a thought, and it makes absolute sense to me on practical and moral levels. People who believe exactly opposite of me get there exactly the same way, only they get to an opposite conclusion. I think that the liberal side is becoming increasingly guilty of forgetting that. We dismiss the Right as crazy radicals and forget to try and understand their thinking and reasoning. What I'd love to see isn't necessarily Democrats winning by 52.6%. I'd love to see them win by a true majority of 64% or 78%.

I recognize this is hardly likely. But the only way to understand that 47.4% is to start listening with those open minds we so proudly espouse via the backsides of Priuses across America.

(*First stat source: http://www.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2004/12/31/global_analysts_dispute_perceived_us_generosity/)
Also, this is labeled as having Adult Concepts because I use the word "fuck." For some reason that makes me very happy.
Also (also) Obama still comes up as something needing to be spell checked. Clinton does not. I wonder how long it'll take for the online dictionaries to change that.

8th-Nov-2008 01:17 pm - 2008 and on
I might have exited the womb a progressive. My grandparents smuggled radios into Guatemala through their church. My Dad marched in Oakland civil right protests. My parents created a childhood where politics was a topic of dinner conversation. During high school this meant I was that annoying girl espousing the virtues of the Dems and in college it meant first phone banks for Gore and then a crushing defeat one rainy November night. I am the profile of a person to fall to her knees weeping at an Obama victory, and yet I feel like the coming months may lead me to finally mark "independent" on my registration. It will cause me do something I never have before: actually listen to see if the politicians are saying anything.

Friday I watched the 5 TVs at the YMCA all but one hold Obama's first press conference. He made the interesting point that there is only one president at a time and that his term doesn't start until January. I get that. But what I have a hard time getting is that the most specific thing we learned was about that damn puppy.

He said, "..we have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypo-allergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypo-allergenic.."

That's what specifics look like. This, on the other hand, isn't what specifics look like:

"Immediately after I become president, I'm going to confront this economic crisis head-on by taking all necessary steps to ease the credit crisis, help hardworking families, and restore growth and prosperity."

This is a classic example of saying nothing and is something I now see everywhere. His victory speech was riddled with them. Victory speeches aren't the place to lay out boring policy specifics but  Obama said, "There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem....(few sentences later) So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other." I hear this and think emotionally it's powerful but it's not actually based on anything. What are we working on? What are resolving to pitch in and do? Have we not worked hard in the past?

I didn't research as much as I should have during this election, but I feel it's taught me to research from here on out. I think the internet is dangerous because we can read what everyone else is saying about what politicians said but it's also great because if we want to, we have the opportunity to go straight to the transcripts of actual speeches. I'm going to try to practice going to the source and seeing it for myself.

I voted for Obama. I didn't vote for him because I thought he's a harbinger of change. He's killed that word for me. I voted for him because he's the Dem and old habits die hard. But out of this I think has come a new habit. Politicians are going to have to earn my vote by more than placing the right letter next to their name. And I need to finally step up and be a citizen and actually watch the moves they make.

Obama's first press conference transcript

Obama victory speech

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