Tuesday, February 13, 2007

so soon? way too soon! -and campaign finance reform

If I were not a First Amendment fanatic, I would want to stop this manaical (you should pardon the expression) surge of candidates throwing-hats-in-the-ring . It's too soon! I don't mind getting to know the candidates-to-be. I just wish they weren't out there spending money and solidifying their images already.

At this stage, all we really know about people like Obama is based on style, not substance. (I happen to think style can be important - a person's bearing can influence whether she/he is going to be taken seriously as a leader.) With other candidates, we may be too blinded by their style (Hillary's abrasiveness, for example) to hear the substance. Others might be all substance (Biden) and no discernable style at all. We might never know.

Maybe I'm just a policy wonk, but I'd rather read position papers and archives of each candidate's career than see them stumping already. Stumping requires money. Money requires donors. Donors require compensation. More than anything else, this mad sequence perverts the democratic process - in my opinion - by forcing candidates into servitude to the kinds of special interests with the money to tempt them - or control them.

It should not cost hundreds of millions of dollars to become the president of the most powerful nation on earth. I've heard the argument that donating money to candidates is an expression of free speech - the First Amendment. Thus, my dilemma. Thus, this nation's dilemma.

What can we do?


Oh, the candidates!

Things are starting to heat up again in politics-land. I listen to NPR every morning while driving my daughter to school, and the talk is hot and heavy on the candidates who are popping up everywhere.

Obama finally threw his hat into the ring, and it looks like it's going to be the Barack-and-Hillary show over the next year. I'm really quite delighted at them both when not thinking political views at all - a woman and an African-American! It would be quite exciting to have either in the white house.

The Republicans also have their hands full picking a new candidate. There's Giuliani who was wildly popular after 9/11 but is also pro-choice and pro-gay rights. There's a Mormon who may or may not be able to find common ground with the religious right. And there's good old John McCain, who I personally would not hate to see in the presidency, but the very things that would make me not hate for him to get elected would make lots of Republicans feel the exact opposite.

2008 is going to be an interesting year!

The prizes!

Finally, we've got our prizes drawn for three of our lucky voters. Here's what they will receive:

I've got blue yarn, red yarn, and some Wildefoote that has all the colors blended together (to represent the great discussion we had on this blog, and the fact that we're really not all that different when it comes right down to it).

Our lucky winners are Melanie, who will get the blue yarn, Yvonne, who will get the red yarn, and Debra, who will get the Wildefoote.

Thanks for playing, everyone! I am turning this blog over to Emily, who has graciously offered to help manage it and keep the discussion going. Obviously I have been a bit neglectful lately (something about some sock knit-along).

Happy knitting!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Disappointed already

Is anyone else disappointed in the conflict that surrounded the Jack Murtha - Steny Hoyer fiasco? Howard Fineman put it very well:

"One of the first rules of politics is that power is the appearance of power."

I wish Nancy Pelosi had remained neutral. Neither candidate was worth losing the image for evenhanded, cool leadership that she should have represented. Instead, she supported Murtha without any assurance that he would win, and without finesse.

Incidentally, FBI tapes aside, I was hoping that Murtha would win. His strong objections to the war allowed other members of congress to muster some courage and speak out. To me, he is a hero.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Keeping the (Civil) Discussion Going

I just gotta say, in case the point wasn't made before, that I appreciated the civility of the discussion on this blog regarding politics. It's a rare occurrence -- either the pundits are screaming past each other or people just avoid the topic.

Are there ideas out there for how to keep the civil discussion going, not just on here, but in our own communities?

Neither party can claim a mandate: I think I heard one analysis that essentially 77,000 votes across America would have changed the Senate outcome. In some races even in the House, the margin was not wide. We have to move more into talking to each other and working together if any of the important issues facing Congress are going to get done.

And there's no reason why, as friends and neighbors, we can't talk and agree to disgree when we must. Don't we each have a obligation to society to do so? But what can we do to encourage more?

I don't have any answers, I'm just putting the question out there as a pregnant, relatively new mom and knitter who is concerned about what each of us individually can do to put our country on the right track.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I Voted and my Conservative Viewpoint

Hi All, my name is Sabrina. I am your typical Christian Conservative, I suppose. I'm not thinking many folks here are going to agree with me, but that's okay. Anyway, I was able to go vote Tuesday and you can read all about that in my personal blog listed in the sidebar. I'm not surprised by the national outcome of the election, nor super disappointed, although not happy either. This chick can't make up her mind, can she? I think people in both parties are wanting a change and expressed their frustration with the current administration on Tuesday. I, too, am frustrated with the President, although for different reason than most here, I'm thinking. I'll be watching how things play out very closely in the next two years, after this election.

I'm from Louisiana, and I live in an area that was badly affected by the hurricane last year. I live an hour from New Orleans so I'm most interested in policies that involve rebuidling efforts, etc. I do want to say that I personally blame local and state government for the gross negligence following the storms, and I don't hold the ferderal government or the President as responsible. There were a lot of things that were done wrong by a lot of people at that time, but from my perspective as someone who lived through it, the state and local government let us down more than anyone else. I personally can't wait till it's time to elect a new governor, and I can not believe New Orleans re-elected Nagin for mayor.

The issue that is most important to me and others in this area is this oil royalties sharing bill that needs to be passed. If it passes it will mean a lot of good revenue for the state. From what I understand Nancy Pelosi is against any and all new offshore drilling, which includes the Gulf region. Now, I haven't researched this in-depth yet, so don't flame me if I got some of that wrong. As I undestand it, our Louisiana representatives (Reps and Dems) are working to get the bill passed in the House during the next two months, or bsaically, it won't happen.

I think knittinmom's previous post was very insightful and I enjoyed reading it, even if I didn't agree with all of it. I am most definitely pro-life, but I thought she made her points very well about how we don't help these mothers who find themself with an unplanned pregnancy. My personal viewpoint is that abortion is never an option, although I will concede the cases of life of the mother, rape, incest, etc. I believe that the choice was made when the woman consented to the act that created that child. Again, rape and incest, she had no choice, so I can understand the possible desire for an abortion in those cases. But, for all other situations where a consentual choice was made, I believe the couple should live with the consequences of their actions, and not hurt that child. That is putting it in the very harshest of terms. I think there are many changes that need to be made in our country to help women who have found themselves in this situation, although I personally don't know what those changes would be, yet. I don't think banning abortions is the whole answer, I think those of us that care so much about these little lives need to step up and come up with some solutions for helping those babies have a better quality of life once they're born. And, I think we are sadly lacking in that area.

Gosh, I hope I've made sense in this rambling post. I don't usually take part in political discussions for fear of sounding stupid, which I've probably done a good job today. And, I'm certainly not trying to anger anyone by anything I've said. I have truly enjoyed watching our democratric process at work these past few days, and I hope to involve myself more in the future.

**ETA: Sorry for all the typos and misspells. I'm not usually such a dumb blogger, really. Also here is a news story about the oil drilling bill if anyone is interested.**

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My recap of yesterday's events

WARNING: Inflamatory liberal ranting ahead!

The first thing I have to say is that although I share a few other posters' concerns about the reddening of the Democratic party, I am so happy to say, "We're back, baby!" Now that the Dems have the ball, however, I'm hoping that we'll be able to actually run it to the end zone. It's easy to talk big when there's an unpopular party in office and several of them have been stupid enough to get themselves caught doing dumb things (um, Mark Foley, for example?), but now it's time for action.

I'm also very heartened by the resignation of Rummy. Even though the new Secretary of Defense is a Bush appointee, which makes him suspicious from the start in my mind, it sounds like he's much better at consensus-building as opposed to the Bush/Rumsfeld strategy of "do what I say, or else". Never mind the fact that we never should've gone to war in Iraq in the first place, we're there and it's time to figure out the best way to get out. I watched Dubya's press conference today and was so irritated when he talked about not withdrawing from Iraq until we "win" and how leaving now would make it a haven for Al Qaeda. Well, how do you think it got to be like that in the first place? Yes, Sadam was a brutal dictator, but at least he kept everyone in line.

I think that the Iraq war has been a study in how NOT to handle a regime change. Unfortunately, our soldiers are paying the price with their lives. How many more have to die before we say "enough is enough"? When will people realize that we're making ourselves more vulnerable to terrorists the longer we stay, not less? Haven't we learned anything from the movies? The schoolyard bully may get his way most of the time, but the little guy always has an opportunity to kick his butt in the end. GW has been running this country as that schoolyard bully. Yes, America is a great nation and all that, but we're living in a global economy and a world where people can fly just about anywhere in a matter of a few hours. In the age of high-speed transit and the internet, we need to learn to play well with others. Just because we say something's right doesn't mean we don't have to prove it to our allies. Just because we think we have the moral high-ground and every single detainee that we've tortured is a terrorist doesn't make torture okay.

It's one of those fine lines that we have to walk because of the nature of human beings. It's a very interesting thing to think about - how we shouldn't care if phones are being tapped or our library books are being monitored because we'd only need to be nervous about it if we were doing something wrong. Well, that's all fine and good when you're on the side of the majority, but what if you're not? Or what if something you do is misconstrued? For example, my husband was saying today how if someone assassinated both Bush and Cheney, then Nancy Pelosi (as our new speaker of the house) would become president. As soon as he said it, he then remarked "Uh, oh, I'd better be careful - they're probably monitoring this call. I meant, when both the president and vice president die of natural causes..." Of course he was kidding, but if someone was taping that call and did some selective editing, it could be made to sound very incriminating. Do some research into Senator McCarthy's reign of terror if it sounds too outlandish.

This is one of the huge problems I have with the tendency of social conservatives in this country to legislate morality. This is the land of the free. And with freedom, comes responsibility. Consider abortion. Now, I for one am anti-abortion but pro-choice. I think that the decision needs to be a private thing between a woman and her doctor. After having been pregnant twice and given birth to two wonderful children, I have a hard time thinking about abortion in a positive manner. I can't disassociate the potential human that fetus will become from the fetus itself. However, I don't believe that banning all abortions across the board is the answer until we are responsible enough as a society to deal with the consequences. We need to value motherhood and parenthood much more highly than we do. Women shouldn't be forced to give up their careers to raise a child, or give up their child to have a career. And I'm not just talking about high-powered career women who are working to make payments on their BMW - I'm talking about the mothers who ride the bus two hours to their minimum wage job and are working for survival. Why can't we take care of these mothers as well? I could go on and on about the minimum wage thing, but instead I'll recommend you read Barbara Erenrich's excellent book Nickled and Dimed.

We also need to be able to take care of every unwanted child that results from an unplanned pregnancy. Sure, it's easy for the pro-life groups to flash around pictures of healthy white babies and say "oh, please give your baby up for adoption instead". But it's just not that simple. What about the babies with ridiculously expensive health problems? Or autism? Or HIV? Babies of color? Babies born addicted to drugs? Not to mention all the babies of women who just can't take care of them but are afraid or unwilling to just give them up to a stranger. Who's going to take care of all of them? Yes, the rosy picture of adoption spooned out by the pro-life groups is nice and gets people all fired up about those evil "baby killers", but it's not reality. Just talk to anyone working the foster care system, and it's very clear that we can't as a society take care of the kids that are being born today, and that's in a society where abortion is legal (but not necessarily easy to get). In order to have the freedom to dictate that your neighbor, or co-worker, or the homeless woman on the corner can't get an abortion, we have to take responsibility for those mothers and children.

I am proud of the voters of Oregon. We re-elected our Democratic governor, Ted Kulongoski, who got the state through a difficult four years, even though the national Republican party threw tons of money at his opponent because it was seen as a vulnerable seat. Portland voters renewed both school and library funding levies and state voters rejected the two TABOR measures by huge margins. We've got a tough couple of years in front of us leading up to the next presidential election. I'm very happy that the checks and balances are back and that Bush isn't running all three branches of government anymore. I think the past couple years have shown everyone why our founding fathers set the government up as they did - too much power in any party's (or president's) hands is never a good thing.

I will wait for the truth.

"...the system gives you just enough
to make you think that you see change
they will sing you right to sleep
and then they'll screw you just the same..."
-the waiting song, ani difranco

I have mixed feelings about yesterday. On one hand, it almost seems anticlimatic. You spend weeks researching candidates, judges, proposals, etc. If you're on a college campus like I am, you are bombarded with stickers, pins, and flyers. Some instructors will spend class time discussing ballot proposals and initiatives. And then, on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, you stand in line, connect some dots, and bam! It's over.

It's odd how a day of such hope and empowerment can be so simultaneously defeating. When you start tallying the number of pro vs. con stickers you've seen today, a dull weight seems to settle in your stomach. And when you went to your voting site, did you notice how many unhighlighted names were on the voter's list? Somehow we've lost the notion that we have a civic obligation to participate in our lawmaking process. When I think about how many people have given everything for a voice in their own government, and I see all those unhighlighted names in front of me, I feel defeated. I wonder how many of those names are women, minorities, or youth between the ages of 18 and 21. Meanwhile, the debate raging among two girls before class today revolved around a certain tanning salon's new appointment policies. So telling, don't you think, that such egocentric-bodyconscious-women could be so blasé when it comes to actually protecting that body, both physically and legally.


I don't think this is the great win that we were all hoping for. Today's liberals were yesterday's conservatives. Conservatives and Democrats alike have made a decisive shift to the right, especially on social issues, which are (in my opinion) the absolute worst things to be conservative about. Fiscal conservatives still piss me off, but social conservatives? I can't understand it.

Here in Michigan, we (as a state) have said that there should be a constitutional amendment that prohibits gay marriage. Yesterday, 5 more states followed suit. Yesterday, they voted in a constitutional amendment to ban affirmative action statewide, and voted against educational funding. All this in a strongly "Democratic" state.

This kind of stuff is happening all over the country. California banned Affirmative Action. Nevada and Colorado struck down possesion of small amounts of marajuana. Any interesting initiatives on the ballot in your states? What were the outcomes? I know that, personally, I am left feeling slightly queasy with the events last night. I'm worried that if our Dem's continue to shift right, the US will become a very scary place indeed.

I believe that it's time to finally abolish this two party system, and strip america of this false sense of "choice."

Just a little something to leave you with:

This guy is hysterical. Unfortunately, the tool interviewed is more concerned with establishing his own political legitimacy than actually discussing anything remotely interesting.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I Just Voted

I just returned home from voting with my 3.5 year old and my 15 month old. My 3.5 year old was very interested in learning about voting and enjoyed helping put my ballot in the counting machine. We live in the Seattle area and I was quite disappointed at the lack of Green party candidates on my ballot. Two years ago the ballot was covered in Green party candidates. We also had lots of races that were unopposed. I will be giving serious thought to getting involved in local politics in the coming years.

Never Felt So Impotent

I'm watching the news, I'm surfing the net, I've got my "I Voted" sticker on.

And I've never felt so impotent in my entire voting career.

I am so FLIPPIN' PISSED about not having a vote in Congress.

Where's my voice on national issues? Who is listening to me about the environment, the war, education?

My husband and I took our 17-month-old with us to the polls today, and I voted for candidates that I felt good about. Particularly the energetic new mayor, a Democrat who carries two Blackberries and runs marathons.

We're going to teach Slim about the importance of casting a ballot, but talk about the frustration of not having a voice on the national level. Anybody that is sitting out there in the states at home and not exercising their right to vote, you're on my list right now.

If your polls aren't closed, GO VOTE ALREADY!

Common Ground

I'm Velma, and I was going to make this a comment to this post earlier, but as I was writing it, I realized I want to share it with a wider audience, so I'm posting it instead.

I agree w/ our hostess that a well-rounded discussion is best done with representatives from divergent viewpoints; multi-partisan if you will, not just bipartisan. However (isn't there always a 'however'?), I'd like to think that folks from any background can see that, as Pippi put it in her blog post today, "War is NOT a Family Value", and I would add that all of us come from/have families, however we define them individually. And I think we can all agree that we want our fighting folks to be safe and come home soon, and that we each want clean water and clean air, and that our kids and the kids of our neighbors need better access to quality education, etc., etc. Don't get me wrong, I'm as liberal as they come, and mirror what Ang said earlier, but from my own viewpoint (i.e., that the dems are too conservative for me, but it's what I've got until the Greens are a viable option). BUT, I'd like to cast my vote for remembering what we have in common, as well as our differences, today of all days. We still have to live with (and knit with and blog with) each other.

I'd love to hear what others think about this. Oh, and I voted already. Even rode my bike in the rain to do it!

My votes are cast!

I'm Lisa from Houston, and I love voting. I get excited about all elections, even minor ones. I'm another diehard liberal and typically describe myself as far more liberal than Democrats.

I just returned to my home town after living in many liberal cities for the past 17 years. Most recently, I was in Minneapolis. During mayoral elections, we had 2 Democrats running against each other. Now I live in the 4th largest city in the country, and there are no elected Democratic judges! This typifies why it is wrong to have judges with political affliations; judges get elected simply because of their party.

For the first time, I really didn't know who to support for governor. It's unusual for me not to have a strong opinion. But I couldn't get excited about any of the candidates. The Democrat seemed like a through-away: the party put up an uninspiring candidate because they know they couldn't win. Kinky drove me crazy--I lived in Minnesota when Jesse Ventura was elected, and Kinky is no Jesse. I understand the value of a protest vote, but I couldn't handle his complete lack of respect for the office.

I am extremely curious about the results tonight and will watch eagerly with my knitting and a (hopefully celebratory) drink.

Today's the big day!

If you haven't done early voting in whatever form, today's the big day...get out there and VOTE! I know I will be spending the evening in front of the tv with a glass of wine and a sock, watching the returns.

Then, e-mail me that you voted and you'll get your link in the sidebar as well as the chance to win fabulous prizes.

Democracy only works if we all do our part!!!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Let's get some more conservative knitters on here!

Tomorrow is the big day, and I encourage all of you to get out and vote! I'd also like to see this discussion continue, and in particular, I'd like to get some more conservative voices on this blog.

Now, I'm a die-hard liberal, so I love the Democratic slant of many of our current posts. However, I truly want this to be a bi-partisan effort and would love to add to our chorus of voices with some other party members (Republicans? Libertarians? Greens? Anyone?). Right now Ang seems to be our lone conservative voice, and I'm sure she'd love some company!

Get out there and vote, and e-mail me once you've done it! I'm already cooking up some prizes (blue yarn for the blue states, red yarn for the red states, black-and-white yarn for the education votes, green yarn for the environmental votes, beige for the independents - but I can't guarantee that you'll get yarn that agrees with your political affiliation!).

Ballot In--Check!

After poring over the voter's pamphlet this weekend, I've finally made my selections and cast my vote.
The most difficult choice for me was the Bull Mountain City Council positions. Our "neighborhood" of Bull Mountain is voting for incorporation to become its own city. The hard part is choosing a council for what may or may not become said city. It's such a new idea, that I'm admittedly suspicious of these candidates and what hidden agendas they might have (i.e. I didn't vote for any real estate agents).
I know voting is incredibly important but, boy, it is TOUGH! There are always issues I waver on. And sometimes I have to pick the lesser of two evils. Yeesh. And sometimes I feel that maybe I'm too good at seeing both sides of an issue and have a touch time deciding for that reason. *sigh*
But I do it because it's my duty! :) Happy voting, everyone!