Friday, April 24, 2009
So as an unrepentant McCain supporter, in my view there are three categories to focus on - foreign policy, economic policy, and practicle politics.
In foreign policy, right off the bat he wins big points for keeping Robert Gates on as Secretary of Defense. Robert Gates has proven that he is a pro, and while he doesn't appear to be someone who seeks accolades, he is someone who deserves them. Also a positive, his policy on Iraq and Afghanistan seem quite reasonable. Overall he's appointed competent and not wildly political representatives to foreign policy positions, and one has to respect that. On the negative side, meeting with Hugo Chavez along with that goofy book exchange was not impressive. The rhetoric in Europe about America being arrogant could be problematic and appeared rather partisan. Yet he did win the election, and neither event is a real departure from what he campaigned on.
A hot topic right now is how to handle the 'enhanced interogation/torture' issue. While the Obama administration has fumbled this issue a bit, in the end they score big points in taking a forward looking stance. This is said as someone who believes that the U.S. should not torture, and should hold the Geneva Convention's definition of torture as the standard. The problems with investigations, along with the threat of prosecutions, are numerous. A huge one is that this has the potential to damage the CIA and its operatives. This is a vital institution, and its members do an important and often thankless job. Degrading their capabilities and membership in what is likely to be a highly partisan, endless series of hearings is not good for the CIA or the country. If the Obama adminstration chose to go after the Bush administration on this issue they would have betrayed their campaign manta of 'change.' It appears they are standing up to the left, and therefor their grade for for foreign policy bipartisanship is A-.
Economic Policy: Unfortunately, there has been virtually no attempt to be bipartisan on economic issues. Granted the Obama adminstration was likely handicapped by the leadership of their own party like Nancy Pelosi, who said about the stimulus bill, "We won the election, we wrote the bill." Comments from Harry Reid that he doesn't work for President Obama likely have made attempts at bipartisanship more difficult. Yet one particularly disappointing moment from President Obama was when he gave a highly partisan speech to Democrats about the stimulus bill. If President Obama had made more of an effort to be bipartisan on fiscal matters the Tea Party protests would likely have not been nearly as successful as they were. There is a growing concern from regular Americans that there is simply too much government spending, and too much government involvement in business an economic matters. The Obama adminstrations best defense to this is that President Bush started many of these policies. That's true but the buck stops at Obama now, and his spending is eclipsing the previous administration (who didn't do much to champion fiscal conservatism) by a long shot. The Obama administrations economic bipartisanship grade, D.
Finally, how well is the Obama administration doing in general at being bipartisan? One positive, they didn't hang Senator Lieberman out to dry for supporting Senator McCain as some feared might happen. A negative, as mentioned in the AP article, in a very partisan move they stirred the pot by announcing that Rush Limbaugh was the head of the Republican party. They appeared to enjoy the turmoil it created amonst prominent Republicans and kept the Limbaugh banter going for quite some time. They may have scored political points off of this, but they also revealed themselves players of what was often reviled in the campaign as 'old school politics.' President Obama has kept bipartisanship on the table as a goal, but the actions don't quite fit the rhetoric and he hasn't shown leadership in this area. Yet again noting that he is likely receiving pressure from members of his own party to be more partisan there is still hope for a more bipartisan tact in the White House and in Washington. His grade for general bipartisanship C.
There is room for improvement, but he should be given credit for not being either wrecklessly partisan, particularly on foreign policy, or succuming to the desires of some in his party to become angry and backward looking. There is quite some concern about how far left economic policies will go, and that Republicans have been excluded from the process. Yet all hope is not lost. President Obama is very popular, and if he choses, he still has the opportunity to be a bipartisan president. The ball is in his court.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Tea Party protesters won a victory today as the mainstream media could not ignore their protests like they have in the past. As expected some of the media described the protesters as radicals (ever-classy and most-trusted Anderson Cooper of CNN used an obscene joke to describe the attendees) despite the pictures showing peaceful gatherings of people of all ages in attendance. Yet media logic dictates if you don't love Obama, you must be crazy.
Yet it's not just the media searching for crazy. A report was leaked by DHS on "Rightwing Extremism." To quote the report,
Rightwing extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on the economy, the perceived loss of U.S. jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and home foreclosures.
Dang it, I'm a radical. There were signs, once in high school I got a detention for a overdue library book; even back then I was bad. My internet chatter about obscene government spending has all been a clever ploy to manipulate my readers to take radical action like, 'vote the bums out,' or 'tell your representatives what you think.' I tell you I'm bad, and if I didn't have a job or a cold I would have been one of those crazy tea party animals too. You need further proof that I'm a radical? How about this...
Rightwing extremist views bemoan the decline of U.S. stature and have recently focused on themes such as the loss of U.S. manufacturing capability to China and India, Russia’s control of energy resources and use of these to pressure other countries, and China’s investment in U.S. real estate and corporations as a part of subversion strategy.
Well there you have it. I'm concerned that China owns us, and all our debt, I must be a radical. Granted, I'm a centrist on guns and immigration, and lean a bit left on the social issues discussed in the report, but imagine my surprise to find out that I've been cavorting with other radicals over the past 2 years by volunteering for the McCain campaign. Pro-life, pro-second amendment, high concentration of veterans, don't let the good humor, sarcastic wit, family values, and helpful manner fool you - we were all a big bunch of radicals, just ask MSNBC.
Now I know there is a serious side to this report. Every group in every country has its nutballs, and its the governments main job to protect its citizens from radicals of all sorts. Yet this seems like a veiled attempt to blur the line between staunch conservatives and radical Klan-like groups, when in reality that is a very clear and distict line. Veterans in particular are owed an apology for their less than flattering portrayal in this report. As for me, I'm going to keep chattering about the economy, and take pride in the fact that someone out there thinks I'm radical.
You May Be A Radical Too...
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Finally, on a more upbeat note, one trait that Senator McCain shares with a good number of his fellow veterans is a wicked sense of humor. While I’d like to say that my rationale for voting McCain was all high minded, I have to admit his sense of humor roped me in in the beginning. It’s probably part of the reason I enjoyed so many of the events with veterans; I’m sure there are veterans out there that lack a sense of humor, but overall I found them quite fun to be around.
During the general election I headed out to canvas a neighborhood with a veteran named Wes. He drove; I hopped out and knocked on the doors. We were canvassing Hampton Beach, a sort of unfortunate task in late Fall to early Winter, since not a lot of people stay at their beach house when the temperature drops. The sheets given to guide us to the appropriate address were accompanied by a brief survey asking whether the occupant was home and whom they were supporting for the different elected offices. The numbering of houses and condos on these sheets could be hard to follow, as locations were not necessarily listed in numerical order. Condo complexes could be particularly difficult to figure out. For instance, 5 Ocean Boulevard unit 16 could be a different page from 5 Ocean Boulevard unit 14, and unit 15 would simply not be on the list at all. The other problem was that you often had to be allowed or buzzed into many of these condo complexes. This basically meant looking for condos, routinely unoccupied due to the season that, even if occupied, could not be accessed. Consequently, we’d just drop a stack of literature on their doorstep, which will likely be picked up sometime this coming June.
So in the process of trying to locate a particular address on Ocean Boulevard, Wes backed his car up right into a pole. Looking down, arranging literature at the time, I was startled at the hit and said, ‘Ooo!’ and looked over at Wes. Thinking, this can’t be good we both hopped out of the car and took a look at his bumper. There was a new yellow stripe down the back side of his car and he said, “Ah, it’s just paint.” Relieved that it wasn’t too serious and that the damage didn’t trouble Wes, we hopped back into the car, and started trying to figure out where our next stop was. As we headed forward we spotted the house number of the next stop; Wes hit the brakes and his coffee flew off the dashboard, hitting me in the arm and soaking my left side. This time Wes looked stunned as I sat there looking at my sweater covered in coffee. “Well, it’s not hot,” I said. He handed me towels and clearly felt badly that I was wearing his drink. I had a t-shirt on under the sweater, so I hopped out of the car again, rung out the sweater and dried it off as best I could with some towels, put it back on, and hopped back into the car. While I smelled of coffee all day, the sweater was dark so it didn’t really matter.
We got through the rest of the doors without much incident, but had trouble finding one particular side street. Finally, we found the tiny narrow street in question; we headed down to the end where we eventually spotted the number of the home on a trashcan outside of a sliding glass door. I got out, knocked on the door, and a young guy, who apparently had just woken up, and was wearing a pair of old boxers and a t-shirt opened the door, saying nothing.
‘Hi, I’m a volunteer with the McCain campaign, and…’
‘No,’ he said and he shut the door and went back to bed.
I got back in the car and said, “Obama.”
As we started to head out of the narrow street I looked back, and Wes said, “Don’t worry, I won’t hit anything… …I saw you watching.”
“Well, I wasn’t going to say anything.”
On the way back to the office he said, “You did a good job.”
“Thanks. You too…”
“Except for the pole.”
“Well that and the coffee, but other than that you did a good job.”
Veteran's Good Humor
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
In the beginning I just thought I’d go see the different candidates at the campaign events in New Hampshire. Four years prior, not long after I moved to New Hampshire from Massachusetts, my sister was volunteering for Senator Kerry’s campaign. She’s a loyal and active Democrat; our parents are Republicans. We talked on the phone after the Iowa caucuses when Howard Dean screamed during his concession speech. She hadn’t heard it called the ‘I have a Scream Speech’ yet, and I said that I felt for him. I figured if I were in politics that would be the sort of thing that would take me out. It wouldn’t be scandal or corruption; I’d simply do something so embarrassing that no one would take me seriously again.
My sister told of a news clip she had just seen of a woman who had met Senator Kerry, then fainted. The video looked like a shot from the Wizard of Oz with Senator Kerry standing over a pair of feet. I was starting to realize that I had missed quite a show by not attending Primary events, so I simply thought this time it would be interesting to see. I certainly had no plans of picking a candidate early, and no interest in joining a campaign. I thought it might give me something to write about on my website, but basically I was just curious.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Maine Tool Room located in Scarborough, Maine is featuring a line of double reed 'gouger' products. These include,
Hunt / Van Hoesen and Pfeiffer Bassoon Blades and Hunt / Van Hoesen Bassoon Profilers.
A McCain supporter has recently released a book about the 2008 election. It includes stories of McCain veterans and provides a perspective on Independent NH.
John Masiz is the founder of BioChemics, VasoActive and DoctorDog.com