Friday, October 24, 2008

Who Needs Irony...

... when you've got people like this:

These people want to ban a book about the dangers of banning books.

I remember when I first went off to university, talking with my roommate about her classes, and she mentioned that she didn't really like biology because the teacher kept talking about evolution. I laughed at first, because I genuinely had no idea there were still people out there that didn't accept basic science.

In much the same way, I continue to be shocked by examples, like this, of just plain egregious ignorance. This isn't being dumb - this is willfully deciding to stop thinking, which is a much more dangerous beast.

For those who, somehow, live in America and yet still aren't clear on this: censorship never works. Oh sure, you may have some temporary effect with it (see: modern China) but you cannot beat it. The genie does not go back in the bottle. You cannot stop people from thinking. It is the entire premise of what makes us human beings, and we will not let it go lightly.

When knowledge is free, so is humanity.

America United?

Yesterday I posted about a group of McCain supporters firmly rounding on an extremist in their ranks and booting him out of their rally, including one of McCain's own campaign heads. To me it was a very positive sign of the campaign changing its tone and looking for a more high-minded competition. It seemed like McCain's campaign was really putting Country First and stopping the red meat appeals to the remnants of the neo-con base.

Unfortunately, we may never know.

The story being a positive development and good news, you'd expect the McCain campaign to take full advantage - set this off in the media and let it garner the good will it deserves. It would generate free publicity for McCain (something he desperately needs right now) and maybe polish up the campaign's tarnished reputation. Just one problem - it would piss off the people like that guy who got ejected, who think Obama is a terrorist (I mean look at his name!) and a socialist and awfully dark when you compare him to a "real" pro-America American. But honestly, who even wants people like that in their party?

Well... I can think of at least two.

The McCain campaign is refusing to let their own campaign manager speak about his extremely positive actions for fear of angering their fundamentalist base. These people are the core of the party - say what you like about conservative ideals, the fact of the matter is that these people drive the Republican vote every election. And John McCain, maverick that he is, can't afford to piss them off.

It's truly unfortunate - here was a great opportunity for McCain to reclaim his honour, lock up the red meat and put country first in his campaigning as well as his service, and - for whatever reason - he passed on it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Deep Breath


Stop what you're doing, and breathe deeply. Just relax.

Now imagine yourself, sitting at your computer chair. You're reading the news, and you see that there's some tension in the Middle East. Worrisome, to be sure. But you're not worried -

Barack Obama is President.

Your son or daughter is a few months away from graduating high school, and he or she has just been accepted to their first choice university. You know the bill is going to be pretty steep, but you're not worried -

Barack Obama is President.

A major economic bubble has just popped, and your industry could be affected. You know you might need to rely on the social safety net to get through this, even though you didn't do anything wrong. But you're not worried -

Barack Obama is President.

You're sick of being lied to. You're tired of being ashamed of your country and embarassed by your leaders. You're angry at the way the Constitution has been shredded and your rights trampled on. You're pissed at the way Wall Street has been allowed to run roughshod over the economy. But you're not worried anymore -

In 14 more days, Barack Obama is President.

Take a deep breath, and relax.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

America United

It's all too easy to focus on politics at its worst. Make no mistake - this nation was founded on ideas and ideals. We lose sight of that sometimes, but it's embedded at the core of what makes America the nation it is.

I often talk about "taking America back." The simple fact is, this nation has been hijacked - our dreams deferred, our government corrupted, our ideals subverted - and we have allowed it to happen. But not any more. Conservatives, Progressives, Libertarians, you name it - we each have our vision of America's future, but we also each have an intuitive grasp of the ideals at the core of this nation. It is this grasp of ideals that Neo-Conservatism never quite got the hang of - because, by definition, one cannot appreciate a Constitution like ours while still maintaining Neo-Conservative beliefs. Inalienable human rights? Trial by jury of peers? A nation of laws that apply to all citizens? This is the very antithesis of Neo-Conservatism, which is nothing more than authoritarian fear-mongering writ large. We on the Progressive side understand this, by and large. Now, at last, the genuine Conservatives have taken the blinders off.

And it's especially nice to see it in action.

A note about posting quantity - you can expect this pattern to continue, of one or two posts a day during the week, followed by no posts on the weekends, as I'm often out of town at that time.

A note about posting quality - you get what you get. No complaining allowed. :P

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Shared Faith

I've decided to convert to Barack Obama style Islam.

That is, I'll only be Muslim to people who blindly accept whatever their leaders tell them is true.

Don't worry, I'll be skipping the Jihad bits and all that. I'm only going to keep the best parts of Islam.

That's right - I'll be doing my religion Allah carte.

The Way It Ought To Be

At the start of this campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama promised to run a different kind of campaign. And to be honest, I believed them - I had high hopes for Obama and great respect for McCain.

Unfortunately, as we've seen, that's not how it panned out, with the McCain campaign ad buys for the past week 100% negative and been focusing on just about everything but the economy and important issues - good old Republican character assassination at work. Despite running a much more positive campaign than most in recent history Obama's not guilt free either - he backed out of his pledge to take public financing (although I can accept the argument he's made that small donors represent a truer form of public financing, I also think it sounds an awful lot like the rationalization it is).

Wouldn't it be nice if both candidates could sit down and treat each other like human beings, disagreeing vibrantly but rationally on their stances on the issues but faceing each other like two reasonable and patriotic Americans, with good humour and good character? Wouldn't it be nice if that could happen?

Well, it still can - and does.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I'm certain there is plenty of post-debate coverage out there, so I'll make this short and sweet. This was definitely the best of the three debates - Scheiffer was an excellent moderator. I watched the debate on MSNBC and followed the always excellent liveblogging at CFLF - you can check it out here if you missed the debate and want a blow-by-blow.

Final analysis? I hesitate to declare an out and out winner; but with no game changers that I saw, Obama is the winner by default, as McCain needed to really shake things up. It was apparent that he knew this going into it - he started the night off on fire, and turned in some of his best debate performances of his career for the first half hour. But Obama played it out with what I've been calling the statistics rope-a-dope - he doused McCain's fire with sound policy and consistent references to statistics, facts, and procedures. This just absorbed McCain's punches, no matter how solid, and by 10:45 McCain's fire was gone.

Once Obama settled into a groove, he came across as polished and presidential - he had a policy response ready for every question, and he had some decent counterpunches for some of McCain's attacks, although again, the focus seemed to be on draining McCain's energy with solid policy prescriptions.

And looking at the snap polling, it appears to have been astoundingly effective, far more effective than I'd expected. I'm seeing polls showing an Obama win at 58 (O) - 31 (M) from CNN and 53-22 from CBS... those are huge numbers!

Without a knock out punch from McCain, I expect polling to either stabilize or continue to trend towards Obama over the next few days.


Not that long ago, the Conservative movement was in the midst of a revolution. It was redesigining itself to fight what it saw as bloated government, excessive entitlement and the encroach of a "nanny state" of welfare and social programs.

To combat this, some very intelligent people got together and started working to counteract liberal acadamia with conservative think tanks, and began work on a series of powerful new ideas that would eventually revamp the political scene entirely, culminating in the landslide ascent of Reagan in the 80's.

One of the key components of this new Conservative movement was William F. Buckley and the magazine he founded, the National Review. This was a magazine that cherished conservative thought and rational discourse.

Unfortunately, like much of modern American Conservatism - at least establishment Conservatism - the NR has become intellectually bankrupt, equating education with elitism and rational discourse with treason.

Example given: William Buckley's son, Chris Buckley, wrote an article a few days ago criticizing the modern American Conservative movement for being anything but conservative in its views and actions. The response from the NR was immediate - Chris Buckley is a traitor! How dare anyone criticize the Right!?! He must go!

So, today, the NR accepted Buckley's resignation.

To be fair, Buckley said he's not sorry to go. His own words:

"While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case."

The conservatives are right about one thing - their movement certainly has been betrayed. But it's not people like Buckley that have betrayed it.


So! After years of abusing my Purerave journal with political discourse, and almost a year of fairly consistent blog reading, I've finally made the leap to a dedicated blog.

There's plenty of great blogs out there, and I don't really expect to cover any new ground - politics is something I'm passionate about, but I'm a regular guy with a regular full time job and a whole host of hobbies, so time is rather short. So expect my thoughts and analysis on a variety of political and philosophical topics on a part time basis. I'm out of town most weekends as well, so this will definitely be a catch-as-catch-can blog.

That said, I look forward to sharing my thoughts with the world, and I'm interested to see your thoughts as well - comments will always be open to the public at large, and rational disagreement is encouraged.

Best wishes to you all!