Politics

When moderates opt-out

I just voted. I voted for the less terrible option. Even given  how disappointed I am with this administration, they are better than the nutjobs that populate the Republican Party.

Reading Evan Bayh’s opinion in the NY Times depressed me even more. He sounds like a completely reasonable moderate and this man has opted out of politics because of how things work (or don’t work). That’s a sad statement on where our country is today. We need more Evan Bayhs, not fewer.

Please do read his most sensible thoughts in it’s full.

It is clear that Democrats over-interpreted our mandate. Talk of a “political realignment” and a “new progressive era” proved wishful thinking. Exit polls in 2008 showed that 22 percent of voters identified themselves as liberals, 32 percent as conservatives and 44 percent as moderates. An electorate that is 76 percent moderate to conservative was not crying out for a move to the left.

We also overreached by focusing on health care rather than job creation during a severe recession. It was a noble aspiration, but $1 trillion in new spending and a major entitlement expansion are best attempted when the Treasury is flush and the economy strong, hardly our situation today.

If President Obama and Congressional Democrats were to take these and other moderate steps on tax reform, deficit reduction and energy security, they would confront Republicans with a quandary: cooperate to make America more prosperous and financially stable, running the risk that the president would likely receive the credit, or obstruct what voters perceive as sensible solutions.

President Barack Hussein Obama!

We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers.

bho-inauguration

This is the first time a President has acknowledged Hindus and Atheists in any address, let alone an inaugural address. This is a small sign that Barack Obama is a President in touch with reality, in touch with the country that America is today. Finally – an intelligent leader. Now, let’s hope his policies are as effective as his rhetoric.

The web’s M.O. (from the Sonal Shah episode)

Apparently the web has gone into shoot first, ask questions later mode. And too damned bad for anyone who stands in the way.

So Obama names his transition team and in it is a South Asian – Sonal Shah. Her bio is impressive – Google.org, Goldman Sachs and the founder of a Peacorps-like organization, Indicorps, focused on India.

First – Euphoria.

Then, a scathing article about Shah’s politics – attacking her for being part of the despicable and detestable Hindu far right. But the article does not actually provide any fact-based backup for these claims. Instead it points to the associations of her parents. Guilt by association.

Shah is instantly condemned on blogs and in newsgroups – the very same blogs who would defend Obama against the Rev. Wright association (hmm…) Do any of these people fact check? No. It is left to Sonal’s acquaintances, friends, colleagues, and calmer, saner minds to defend her. A gentleman who started a volunteer organization in Pakistan based on Shah’s Indicorp stated categorically that “Sonal Shah has wanted nothing but the best for Pakistan and its Muslims”. Would that be her approach if she were a Hindu fanatic?

Sonal herself issues a statement denouncing the policies of the Hindu far right and disassociating herself with those policies.

What then? Do the people who jumped on the “oppose Shah” camp apologize? Do they even admit they might have over-reached? Oh no! That would be… too civilized. They offer no apology. They move on.

Could Sonal have been more careful about which groups she associated with her efforts to do real good? Sure and it is a very valid point. By the same token though, those who are ready to tear someone down should be more careful to check the facts.

In this day of instant opinions it is incredibly easy to cause irreparable harm. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?? There are two sides to every story – why not wait to figure out both before hanging someone up to dry?

In the instant and constant news cycle, it sometimes makes sense to wait a while before forming an opinion and publishing it for the world to see.

Obama and the War on Brains

Barack Obama’s election is a milestone in more than his pigmentation. The second most remarkable thing about his election is that American voters have just picked a president who is an open, out-of-the-closet, practicing intellectual. 

Maybe, just maybe, the result will be a step away from the anti-intellectualism that has long been a strain in American life. Smart and educated leadership is no panacea, but we’ve seen recently that the converse — a White House that scorns expertise and shrugs at nuance — doesn’t get very far either.

Op-Ed Columnist – Obama and the War on Brains – NYTimes.com

The Lords Are Blogging

Commenter Krishna alerted me to the fact that Members of the House of Lords are blogging!

The aim of the blog is to help educate, raise awareness and engage with the public on a range of issues relating to the role and business of the House of Lords.

The blog is authored by a group of Members from across the House. Each Member has their own profile and personal section of the blog. A ‘homepage’ provides an at-a-glance digest of the latest post from each Member.

The experiment is being run by the Hansard Society – an independent, political research and education charity based in the UK. Their stated goal is to “strengthen parliamentary democracy and encourage greater public involvement in politics.”

It seems that right now, about eleven Members are blogging and there is an open invitation on the blog for any interested Members to contact the Hansard Society to participate – further reinforcing that this wasn’t mandated but rather a little skunkworks experiment (that and the fact that it a WordPress.com blog!)

This is such a brilliant idea. For example, you can read about how Lord Taylor met with Barack Obama three years ago or read an overview of the debate the House of Lords had on the prevailing economic situation.

There’s a lot of talk about how companies should blog and have open conversations with their customers. How excellent would it be if the politicians we have elected to represent us start blogging? A blog for the House and the Senate? They should look to their colleagues across the pond for guidance.

Now, to rise to the challenge…

Obama will always be our first black president. But can he be one of our few great presidents? He is going to have his chance because our greatest presidents are those who assumed the office at some of our darkest hours and at the bottom of some of our deepest holes.

“Taking office at a time of crisis doesn’t guarantee greatness, but it can be an occasion for it,” argued the Harvard University political philosopher Michael Sandel. “That was certainly the case with Lincoln, F.D.R. and Truman.” Part of F.D.R.’s greatness, though, “was that he gradually wove a new governing political philosophy — the New Deal — out of the rubble and political disarray of the economic depression he inherited.” Obama will need to do the same, but these things take time.

Op-Ed Columnist – Finishing Our Work – NYTimes.com

Congratulations President Obama

I have an incredible feeling of optimism. Finally, a new beginning. Hope. Progress. A joyful new day.

Congratulations President Barack Obama. I can’t wait to see you in action. Make us proud!

UPDATE: Obama’s victory speech gave me goosebumps.

Here are my favorite bits…

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

Its the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America

… But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way its been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have wondered if Americas beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

Sarah Palin Punk’d by Montreal radio station

This is so hilarious.

I can’t believe all the hints they dropped and she still didn’t get that she was being punk’d. Is she even listening to what he’s saying? He states the wrong name for the Prime Minister of Canada – a name she should know based on being the Governor of Alaska. After all, Canada is a neighbor, even if she can’t see Canada from her house. No reaction. He says his wife is “hot in bed”. Nothing yet… He talks about “Hustler’s nailin’ Palin” video and she says thanks! Heh.

Their website is here.

Hat tip: Boing Boing

I Voted

I thought I’d be in India on November 4th. Circumstances changed and I’m still in NYC, but I had already asked for an absentee ballot.

A couple of weeks ago, I filled in the ballot and sent it in to ensure it is counted.

Absentee voting is just not as fulfilling as going to the polling station and pulling the lever. To make myself feel better, I am giving myself an “I Voted” sticker I would have gotten if I went to the polls instead.

Let’s hope Wednesday the 5th is a new day of hope, promise and progress!