Tuesday, December 4

Who's the man?

Once upon a time, as some of you know, this was a pretty political blog. Well, fair warning, it may get kind of political again before too long. Yesterday, I filed the paperwork to become a candidate for delegate to the Democratic National Convention, representing Alabama's 6th district. My declared candidate: Barack Obama.

Obama accepts the coveted Hey Jenny Slater endorsement at a rally in Birmingham.

This decision wasn't a simple one to make. When I first got politically involved in Alabama, it was with the "Draft Clark" movement back in the fall of 2003, and Wes Clark has endorsed Hillary Clinton; not coincidentally, most of the folks I worked with on Clark's campaign in 2004 are already volunteering with the Hillary campaign in '07. I did give some thought to joining them, but, well . . . here's why I didn't.

I don't think it's being overly melodramatic to say that the United States will be at a crossroads in 2008, facing the most important election of my lifetime. We're going to face a choice between two strategies regarding the Middle East and our foreign policy in general, and the choices couldn't be more different -- on the one hand we'll have the option of continuing the Bush administration's policy of staying entrenched in Iraq and threatening full-scale war against anyone who looks at us funny, on the other hand we'll have the option of mending our international relationships and solving problems with diplomacy instead of bombs. But we'll also be faced with the choice of whether we continue our trend toward saying to hell with the Constitution and gradually conceding every last bit of political power to the executive branch, or bring some sanity (and respect for true American democracy) back to our political system.

Some of the people currently running for president understand how serious this choice is. Sadly, I think most of them don't.

coughRudyGiulianicough. (By the way, doesn't it just figure that he wouldn't know the right way to make the peace sign?)

Does Hillary get it? Ummm . . . to a point. Obviously she's been one of the most outspoken critics of Bush's failed policies both abroad and at home; I think she's got the influence to repair a lot of our broken relationships with countries who were formerly some of our strongest allies. I think she's a brilliant woman, and whatever else you think about the job she'd do as president, you have to concede she'd do a pretty good job of making sure the trains run on time. To swipe a phrase from Warren G. Harding, she would at least bring about something of a "return to normalcy" in Washington.

But for me, at this point, normalcy isn't enough. Everything about our political system is damaged -- the way our politicians interact with the people, with other countries, even with one another -- and I'm not sure it would be enough just to apply the quick coat of paint that a mainstream, entrenched-in-the-system politician like Hillary would represent. I hear a lot of plans and analysis coming from her, a lot of it promising, but I just haven't heard a vision. And for all the things she clearly gets about policy and politics, I'm just not sure she gets how total an overhaul we need in Washington right now. At this very moment in our country, torture has somehow been made legal, we're thinking about invading Iran even though our military is already overextended in two countries, and certain elements of our executive branch feel that they can operate completely outside the Constitutionally prescribed frame of American government. This isn't just a "These guys suck, we need to clean house" kind of an election, this is a clean house and completely reverse everything that's happened in the last eight years kind of election. And again, I haven't heard enough from Hillary to convince me that she truly understands the scope of just how serious and urgent that job is going to be.

The reason I'm supporting Barack Obama is because I do think he understands that. He's not only outlined what we need to do as a country to wipe away the stain of the last eight years but done so in a way that emphasizes what he's for as opposed to what he's against, and that in and of itself is a rare thing coming from a politician. I think he's looked long and hard at just what a huge task it's going to be to fix Washington, and if he's willing to take on that job, then I'm willing to help him.

There are plenty of knocks on his candidacy, of course. He's black, so he can't get elected. He's got a Muslim-sounding name, so he really can't get elected. He doesn't have enough experience, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But in response to those first two caveats: Maybe I'm just dumb and/or naive, but in spite of all the ugliness I've seen in this country over the past few years, in spite of the ways I've seen our worst instincts drawn out and pandered to, I really do think this country has reached a point in its historic evolution where we're too smart to turn down a candidate who's a good man just because he's black or has the middle name "Hussein." And as to the last strike against him, maybe a lack of experience in a Washington system as broken and bastardized as the one we're stuck with now isn't such a bad thing. Call me mercenary, but at this point I'm honestly less concerned with experience than I am with vision, courage, and a willingness to strike out on a completely new course for the country; if a candidate has those three qualities -- and obviously I believe that Obama does -- then I'm willing to overlook the fact that he's a bit of a political newbie.

If a group of people as diverse as Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, comedian Chris Rock, and former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Tony McPeak can support Obama, then so can you!

Obama's recent gains in some of the polls notwithstanding, I know he's facing an uphill battle here. I know there's a decent possibility that Hillary Clinton will get the nomination, and if that ends up happening, I'll support her wholeheartedly; on her worst day she's still preferable to just about any of the Republicans who've declared at this point. But as long as it's still the primary season, I feel like it's still my chance to support my ideal candidate, and Obama is that guy.

But be that as it may, I'm still interested in hearing who y'all are supporting and why, and that's a conversation I'm looking forward to having here (and many other places) over the next few months. (Incidentally, while I find most of the Republican candidates beneath contempt, you know who I really like? Ron Paul. I really think he may be the only Republican candidate who gets it at all when it comes to a practical policy in the war on terror. His domestic policies are different enough from mine that it'd be hard to actually pull the lever and vote for him, but if he did get elected president, I think I could still feel pretty secure that the country would finally be headed in the right direction again.)

In the meantime, of course, I'd like to point out that if you're a fellow resident of the sixth Congressional district of Alabama, and you're planning on (or even considering) voting for Obama in the Democratic primary on February 5, you'll be able to vote for me. And I hope you will. (I shouldn't be too hard to find, for if what I've heard is correct, the list of prospective Obama delegates from AL-6 -- which went for Bush by a nearly 2-1 margin in '04 -- is likely to be short.) If this is something you're interested in finding out more about, you're welcome to contact me via the e-mail address at top right.

Anyway, like I said, I look forward to this discussion being an ongoing one, but rest assured that political considerations will in no way completely take the place of football, cars, girls, bitching about dumb-ass celebrities, or any of the other wonderful things that have made this blog the rich tapestry you've come to know and love. I mean, I'm not a one-trick pony here. I'm trying to keep things interesting. Because it's all about the kids.


Anonymous said...

Good luck. I am probably one of the few folks left living in the South that isn't a full bore Stepford Republican. And I like Obama well enough; if he gets the nomination, I will support him. But, he really is young, and I don't just mean chronologically. He hasn't been in politics that long. I get that his inexperience could be a good thing: he could be the idealist that Jimmy Stewart played and who we all loved in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. But my crystal ball says he'll get eaten alive by the Karl Roves lurking out there. So, I can't support him. We can't afford another Rovian Presidency.

My personal preference for a lot of reasons is John Edwards. More than any candidate on either side, I see him as being connected to the problems of the middle class, which I know is a little ironic given his personal wealth. Still, he seems to me to have genuine concerns that people will be able to get work, raise families, get decent medical care, and do it without being afraid the whole time. But, if there is anyone with less political experience than Obama, it's Edwards.

I would support Kucinich just for his smoking hot wife, but that seems so shallow. Maybe if this was the 1950s...

So, from the group of candidates that are not jack booted brown shirts, that leaves Hillary. OK, I know that technically she has the least experience of them all. But not in reality. Ain't nobody been through what she has. And in almost every venue except the good ol' boy south she has survived well. Billy Joe and Goober are going to call her Hitlery, and the press will make fun of her pants suits (which she is learning to turn to her advantage), but she has respect where she needs it, she can deal with her enemies and she can do it without taking away from her ability to govern.

Whoever gets elected, I would hope that they can think for themselves. Whatever you think about Bush's policies, I have to say the worst part is that they are pretty clearly not his policies. If they were his, he would be able to defend them without a prepared speech being handed to him. I have never seen anyone in a position such as his who doesn't give out any evidence that he has had an independent thought in his lifetime. Maybe he really is a Stepford Republican.

Josh M. said...

"and respect for true American democracy..."

I'd love to know where this notion started that the United States was a democracy. It certainly wasn't the Constitution.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I don't think Giuliani is giving the peace sign in that pic; I think he is signaling that it is the 4th quarter. ;-)

Drew Ditzel said...

You are my favoirte UGA blogger because you buck the norm politically and are so funny that you don't give a damn that you buck the norm.

Obama 08!

could not agree with you more.

Erik Tylczak said...

This is why I worked for the Dean campaign so much in '04.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that you are not an Edwards supporter. I like Obama and I do believe that any candidate whose biggest liabilities are skin color and middle name makes for a potentially strong leader while providing a sad commentary on the American people at the same time. India has had a female prime minister, people!

I support Edwards up here in Missouri because 1) I believe he is the only candidate (besides the GOP's Ron Paul) who offers real change in this election. By addressing poverty and actually tackling health care we are getting at the very root of our larger problems like crime and education. Public health issues, violence, apathy and economic problems can be greatly improved by finding realistic solutions to America's poverty problem. 2) He may be the only Dem who can win Missouri, he seems to be popular with folks who will not consider voting for Clinton or Obama. An Edwards/Schweitzer ticket would win this battleground state over Huckabee or any other GOP candidate.

Keep up the good work, I know very little about the state of Alabama (or Georgia) or UGA; but I find your blog entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the post on why you hate GT. In-state rivalries are lacking in MO on the athletic field (the fight is in Jeff City over Higher Ed. $$$, Mizzou v. everyone else!) and I find in-state rivalries very intriguing.

Anonymous said...

"I'd love to know where this notion started that the United States was a democracy. It certainly wasn't the Constitution."

Uh, Art 1, sec 2 says: "The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states"

The 17th amendment says: "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof"

Only the President and Vice Prez are not directly elected by the people under amendment 12.

Ya know what really isn't anywhere in the Constitution?


DAve said...

zen bubba:


It's a semantic argument. The framers were, in fact, fearful of true "pure" democracy, and the constitutional procedures were constructed with that in mind.

Unfortunately the term has been manipulated to take on a meaning different than its origins. Kind of like the words "consensus", "is", and "liberal".

And some other words not mentioned in the Constitution along with capitalism? "Socialism", "Communism", "fairness", "moral obligation", "less fortunate", "will of the people", "diversity", "equality", and "social justice".

Happy Birthday, Martin van Buren!

Anonymous said...

On Democrats! On Socialism!

Don't worry, let the rich work hard and take the risk--we've got your back!

Anonymous said...

Glad to see I'm not the only one who's swayed towards Kucinich by his wife. Rowr.

Ron Paul's domestic policies worry me a bit, to be honest, and it's not helped by the kinds of people supporting him. Interestingly, he thinks that other than him, the people in the two parties who are most consistent and right about current foreign policy are Chuck Hagel and Kucinich.

As for Anonymous at 8.06 a.m., spare me. Right-wing American politicians would have a fit of the vapors if they met any actual socialists in politics. Next time someone tries to nationalize an industry, you can feel free to dust that off. Just because someone's calling the current Administration's bullshit on trying to roll back to pre-New Deal social policies doesn't make them a revolutionary... actually, to pick up on Dave's theme about actual meaning versus general usage, that would be "small c" conservative.

Anonymous said...

There are alot more reasons to support Dennis Kucinich than his smoking hot wife. His postitions on the issues are smoking as well. He is the only candidate that will get us out of Iraq right now. We have done all we can there, it is time to leave. Find one of those programs on the Internet where you identify your postition on the various issues and it tells you who you support. For many of you, Dennis Kucinich will be the answer.

Universal Remonster said...

Doug, good for you. I've been an Obama supporter since he first announced he was running, and while I gave others the chance to win me over I've stuck with him for the same reasons you support him.

I really like John Edwards. But I don't see him as president. He seems a little to.... well, un-political. He kind of reminds me of Jimmy Carter for some reason, with logic and tolerance being the basis of his arguments. While I admire that, I don't think it's going to put him in office, and even if he DID get elected somehow I don't see him convincing people once he's in that position. I'll support him for any other public office, but president is just a bit of a stretch in my opinion.

Finally.... my two cents on Hillary. I admit Hillary is smart, focused, and methodical. And it scares me. I actually would have a hard time supporting her if she gets the nomination, and I would be adament about getting some real answers to some of the problems I think she poses. She could surprise me, but I feel like she is a political machine, and just like you Doug, I think we don't need a continuance of that, whether our president is Democrat or Republican. We need a fucking overhaul. Obama is the only one really offering a chance at that, IMHO.

Anyway, if you ever feel likem oving to WPB, please do because we really need your vote. Haha.

Anonymous said...

Just love the outline of District 6. Might as well call it the white flight District. I notice how the city of Birmingham got lumped in with the counties in the mid-west portion of the state...a part called the Black Belt. Thanks Gov Gerrymander!

Anonymous said...

Eh -- anonymous at 10:37 AM, that's the Voting Rights Act, which has been interpreted to require the formation of districts that will elect black (and, in some areas, Hispanic) Congressmen. Sounds good, but the offshoot of those districts are the "white flight" districts like the 6th. To my knowledge, Tennessee has a similarly-shaped "white flight" district, and Georgia probably does as well.

Anonymous said...

That is the most gerrymandered district I've ever seen.

Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

Trust me, it's nowhere near the worst.


Anonymous said...

'reallocation of wealth' that's the primary cause of the democratic party. punish the smartest, hardest working citizens and reward ignorance and laziness.

funny, I dont remember that principle being outlined in the constitution.

you should read the speech sarkozy read about the US a few weeks ago, it was excellent.

Anonymous said...

here's the sarkozy quote that I was looking for:

America did not tell the millions of men and women who came from every country in the world and who—with their hands, their intelligence and their heart—built the greatest nation in the world: "Come, and everything will be given to you." She said: "Come, and the only limits to what you'll be able to achieve will be your own courage and your own talent."

Erik Tylczak said...

Another dumbshit who has never actually seen the real world from outside the rose-tinted glasses of daddy's hereditary wealth.

Anonymous said...

You just wish to hell someone would die and leave you anything....money, land, education or a family name. Bitterness and jealousy will acomplish nothing. Just get in the game and make all you want....or don't want....get it?

Josh M. said...

"Anybody who suggests I work for my money is just a dumbshit who never was actually a 'working man' like me! My government is there to give me stuff!"

Anonymous said...

I keep hearing about all the hard work of rich people, but have never seen a rich person working hard.

Anonymous said...

When deciding which candidate to back right now, the biggest two factors for me are intelligence and trust.

I have major issues with Hillary. She seems to latch onto whatever issue that she thinks will curry her the most favor (i.e. violent video games). Given the choice, I'd sooner vote for Ron Paul.

For Edwards, I just don't *quite* buy what he's selling yet at this point. I honestly cannot tell if all his talk on poverty is sincere or if it's just some shrewd angle to make him stand out.

Obama is the only one where I feel 100% certain of his sincerity and his intelligence. He is the candidate I have supported and will continue to support.

Universal Remonster said...

Oh, COME ON ZEN!!!! You KNOW that all rich people deserve to be rich because they WORKED SO HARD to get that way in the first place! Gosh!

Wait.... sorry. I stuck my tongue so far into my cheek that I accidentally bit it off.

duff said...

John Edwards is a candy-ass. He's a (somewhat) pretty face with no real substance behind him.

The candidate I've been wishing would get more publicity and more attention is Bill Richardson. He may not have the charisma that Obama has (and admittedly he has a lot), but he has a lot more experience and has the same depth of vision (in my opinion).


That being said, if it comes to a choice between Hillary and Obama, it's Obama all the way.

I have yet to look at Ron Paul, but since I tend to vote Democrat, I haven't felt it necessary. Based on your insight, I might just do some reading on him. From what you say, it sounds like he might be a better choice than Hillary.

Anonymous said...

I see plenty of rich people who work hard, built their wealth with their own hard work and ingenuity, and made sacrifices in terms of education and smart financial decisions that helped accumulate that wealth. If you think the wealthy simply inherited it and you've never seen a rich person that didn't work hard, you aren't looking very hard or are working in the wrong industry.

Of course, the redistribution weapon of choice for the left is the progressive income tax, which generally punishes those who work and earn a higher income (meaning new money) more than those who simply live off accumulated wealth.

As for Obama, I'd think he's a very good person and one whose foreign policy would probably be light years ahead of the neo-cons and many of the establishment Dems such as Hillary, though I'm not sure whole-sale pullout from Iraq is the answer either. Being a libertarian leaning conservative, his ties to organized labor make him immediately suspect (as is any Democrat from Chicago) but I don't think he's the debil. I agree with Obama regarding a number of the problems the country is facing, though I disagree about the means of solving those problems. Edwards spouts that redistribution of wealth garbage way too much to be taken seriously.

As a Republican, I'm tending to lean towards Huckabee (though the Southern Baptist part of him, particularly the part that's soliciting an endorsement from James Dobson, is fairly concerning) because he has proven to be an effective administrator at the state level, the best indicator for me of ability to do the job. His lack of foreign policy experience is a question, but one that every president over the last 30 years, save Bush I, has had. Otherwise, I like Paul and his deconstruct the federal government philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, that should read "you've never seen a rich person that worked hard."

Anonymous said...

so I guess earning an MBA at night and working 80-100 hours a week doesnt constitute as working hard.

get your facts straight before coming into an argument. an easy google search will tell you that 1st generation millionaires WAY outnumber those with heriditary wealth. It's not even close.

What is it about leftists who just HATE those that sacrifice and bust their ass in order to get ahead? I guess its easier to sit on the couch and sarcastically attack anyone who's done well financially.

If the only way to wealth is through inheritance I guess 90% of the students in grad schools should quit, they have no hope according to you.

Josh M. said...

"I keep hearing about all the hard work of rich people, but have never seen a rich person working hard."

That says a lot more about you than was probably intended.

I actually work for a living, and my boss is legitimately wealthy - and he's here from 7 to 7 every day.

Anonymous said...

I'll probably support Ron Paul in the primaries.

After that I'll never see him again and Obama is as good as any.

I kinda like Hillary because with her we would get Bill.

And talk radio would suddenly give a damn again about the Constitution and civil rights. Can you imagine talk radio suddenly finding the theory of the unitary executive abhorrent?

Man. The 180 degree turn the right wing is about to make is gonna be a joy to watch.

Anonymous said...

I've seen no evidence that conservatives or Republicans or their supporters are eager to change the existing tax or welfare state structure.

How long did they hold a Congressional majority along with the Executive Branch in the last 20 years? It took Clinton to make minor modifications to welfare. So spare me the "demoncrats are socialists!" rhetoric. Didn't Bush just decide to freeze private mortgages today? Talk about messing with the Free Market! (Although I agree with the policy decision which could lesson the effects of the negatives of folks losing their homes.)

If you want to argue substantive policies, do it from a policy perspective and not an ideological one. Unless you want to come across as a frothing partisan or just plain lazy.

And don't just scream "Fair Tax!" either. I read the book and it has problems. But if you'd like to discuss a value added tax (VAT), I'm all ears.

Most of the candidates (Rs and Ds) will try to keep the status quo when push comes to shove.

Erik Tylczak said...

I love the irony of a guy posting under "anonymous" telling me that I wish that I could inherit a name.

Mac G said...

I knew that I kept coming to this blog for a reason. Bottom Line, Obama has "IT." JFK had it, Reagan had it, Bill Clinton had it. A way to move people and make believe in something again.

After this Bush era, our country sadly needs that. Hillary would be an all right president, a Republican Light but for real change in this country, Obama in the real one to buck the whole system. He makes people care about our country again.

Obama will have to beat Hillary because she will not lose it herself.

I do not envy whoever the next president is at all because Bush has left this country so destroyed.

10 trill in debt, record weak dollar, 2 military occupations with no end in sight, mortage meltdowns and a social security baby boomer crisis looming.

Plus, Bush and Cheney can not even tell us the truth about whether Iran has nukes or not.

They do not and their hopes for a 3rd war are crushed. At least lets hope.

Universal Remonster said...

Hey, just to clarify my earlier statement, because I might have gone a little to sarcastic for some of you bozos to figure out;

1) A lifetime of hard work does not mean you will be rich.


2) Hard work gives you a greater success at gaining and maintaining welath


3) Being wealthy is not an immediate indication of hard work, and never will be

Easy peasy. I wasn't trying to attack anyone who works hard, because I've been on the 80 hour a week work train and it ain't fun.

Ulysses said...

Go Doug! This longtime Republican has already donated to Barrack's campaign. I feel he has the power to be a cross-over candidate and truly heal the nation and its relations with the world. Obama in 08, for the love of God.

Anonymous said...

No I mean I have never seen a rich person working hard. See to me "hard work" isn't long hours and doesn't occur in air conditioned offices.

Hard work is roofing, or asbestos abatement, or hvac installation. Paving and concrete work can be pretty hard. Spearing tobacco is a bitch. Carpentry and electrical work is hard work. Deciding whether to buy or sell a particular stock may be difficult, but it's not hard.

In my experience rich people tend to hire someone to do the hard work.

Universal Remonster said...

Zen... maybe I'm from a different planet. I do think we agree for the most part, but I work in an "air conditioned office" and I work harder than most painters and roofers i know.

Breaking a sweat means jack-shit. Making huge decision and taking accountability is much tougher.