Posts Tagged ‘palin’

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What’s In A Word? UPDATE

October 30, 2008

UPDATE – See #3 for update on Palin effigy story – it’s been taken down after a similar effigy was brought out of the homeowner.

As I search for answers to why our country is so divided lately, and many other issues, I have run across more than one person who tries to remind that “it’s only a word”. They seem to suggest that the language we all use in our discourse is of little import. Whether it is the feminist who defends the usage of the word dude, the liberal who defends saying conservatives have wrecked the country, or the conservative who defends talking about members of the other party using words like terrorist and socialist, I find the same problem with all of the arguments. People seem to be forgetting how much words matter. Give me liberty or give me death only had to be uttered for its importance to be felt, its speaker did not have to die. Our nation, after all, was founded on words. And we debate those words constantly. If words were clear, and held less meaning, there would be no need to debate what constitutional amendments mean. And we would never be able to add new ones. Words mean so much, and yet lately, they are being thrown around so flippantly. Politicians are calling their opposition “Godless” with no base in fact. With the country in dire straits, our words matter even more. Our words (and those of our talking heads, pundits, and media outlets) help set the tone of the country. But I am guilty of my own sins. I’ve become so dismayed by the acts of a few, and by the tones of politicians, that I’ve forgotten that there is still a rational base in this country who aren’t buying it. So, for those who, too, have become dismayed – fear not. The list below contains links to stories of people who have done something about this. Some are every day citizens, some are media pundits, and a few are even politicians. 

1. Obama’s 30 minute ad. Stop for a second thinking about Obama’s politics, and whether or not you disagree with the direction he would take this country. Watch the ad with only one question in mind – what kind of tone does it set? I was heartened to see that Obama’s ad didn’t contain partisan attacks. The closest he came was when he pointed out what most of America has already realized – the policies of the last  8 years (and, in terms of many policies, longer than that) have not worked.  A majority on both sides agree with this statement. It is why McCain has tried to distance himself from Bush. The rest of the tone of the ad was a thoughtful message of hope. There were 0 attacks against the other party or candidate. Not a great one along the lines of Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats, but a beacon in the darkness of tone that has become so prevalent.

2. Connecticut congressman Shay’s, a Co-Chair of John McCain’s campaign, has denounced the way the campaign has been run. It is hopeful to see a politician calling out his own party for their campaign tactics. From what I have read, Shay’s has run a very clean, honest, and thoughtful campaign in Connecticut. While I don’t live there, and wouldn’t have the chance to anyways, this act of bravery would be enough to make me considering voting for Shay’s even if I didn’t agree with his stance on policy and issues. Right now, we need more of this kind of bravery. And the ideas of both sides are going to have to balance each other out if we are going to salvage our financial dignity, and our dignity in the eyes of the world.

3. A handful of neighbors in the West Hollywood community where the effigy of Palin has been hung demonstrated against it by holding up sheets attached to large poles to shield it from view. These people bring yet more hope that we can use peaceful means to say “I respect your right to free speech, but this is unacceptable in this community at this time”. UPDATE: I’ve now seen two different reports as to why the effigy has been removed. One is from protestor Larry Tomkins, who could be argued to have taken it a little far in the opposite direction. Local news has reported that Tomkins showed up outside with a similar strung-up effigy of the homeowner with a t-shirt that asked “how does it feel?”, and has had interviews with Tomkins. However, another outlet reports that the effigy was taken down (according to the mayor) after the mayor of West Hollywood had a “long conversation” with the homeowner earlier tonight. In all honesty, I’d prefer it if the real reason is because the mayor came out and sat them down and had a little talk with them. Either way, the homeowners are definitely feeling the overwhelming response of the community – they will give no interviews (anymore), no access, and have holed up in their homes. If enough of us decide we won’t accept this kind of thing, on any level, from any side, we can make a difference. And it’s nice to know that at least one elected official did certainly show up and talk to them, to say “this is unacceptable right now – you’ve gotta knock it off”. A note, however – there is still a giant (and very well done) visage of McCain coming out of their chimney with flames escaping around him. This one doesn’t bother me near as much, and doesn’t seem to bother the people of the community either. But honestly – a flaming political jack in the box chimney around Halloween (especially from an openly gay couple in a heavily gay community – the gay friends I have get that joke, as it appears does the community in WeHo) doesn’t hold near the fear mongering as a politician being symbolically lynched. I’m glad to see that the community has responded, and been heard.

 

I’ll be trying to find other such stories. Any who read this, please, if you know of more, add them to the comments list and they will be added to this post as an update. Let the list of hope begin.

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I Propose A Moratorium On The Words Democrat and Republican

October 28, 2008

The recent violent mindsets being shown by Americans lately have been more and more worrisome to watch with the continuing unchecked economic crisis. For those that have somehow forgotten about that little crisis thing, don’t feel bad. It may be because it’s hardly being touched by a lot of the MSM. A quick visit to Fox, CNN, and MSNBC finds only one of the three has a story in its main headlines about the economy or the bailout bill. Personally, I think enough people are fearful that it’s time to get the information out there a little more so we can start educating people what to do.

The bailout is barely performing its basic function of slowing the economic bloodspill. Markets run only when people have enough faith in them to put money into the system…and right now, people are still too scared to be doing this much. As such, the markets aren’t working. The system is in a state of failure right now. I say a state of failure because it is just that – a state, and one which will only last as long as mistrust and derision are the cultural zeitgeist. For those who have a little time, I highly recommend Robert Reich‘s lecture over at fora.tv. The title is what’s at stake in the election, and Reich certainly does show his personal opinion over who should win (he’s one of Obama’s advisors…not too surprising), but he does an amazing job of educating people in a calming way about what is going on. He comes at it from a very progressive point of view, but one which is well reasoned. One of his main points is that our main problem right now is not a lack of liquidity, it is a lack of trust.

If you’re still feeling adventurous, check out Naomi Klein’s lecture from Oct. 16th while you’re there. Klein has become one of the main voices behind the idea of “disaster capitalism”. One of her main points is that, in times of crisis, the tools that we pick up are not the newly created economic ideas – they are the ones that are available right now, and become a part of common enough thought to be voted in. As such, it’s all the more important that we all try and educate ourselves about the ideas that are going to be put forth, and make our voices heard by our representatives. Politicians are already worried about losing their jobs – lets make sure they’re still just as worried when they vote on the inevitable upcoming economic legislation. 

And if you want to go a little further, look into Paul Krugman and some of his financial articles over at the Times. Some of his political articles take a bit of a party line slant, but when it comes to matters of the economy, especially the global version of it we now live in, it’s hard to deny the Nobel Laureate’s thought. Please, let us remember – there are other ideas out there than the Keynsian/Friedman based ideologies that have dictated much of our previous policy.

But all of this relates to the title of this point, and to this growing violent underbelly. The feds interruption of the would-be assassins of one of our presidential candidates has made it far too evident that the mindset of derision has grown far too entrenched in our nation at current. While I do not blame politics for creating it, as the political future of our nation has placed politics in such a public eye, I do blame them for their actions. In a rare showing, John Stewart tonight did an amazing job of pointing out the amount of fear in both camps. Even with all his recent bias, I challenge anyone to argue against the overall point – that people fear what will happen if their guy doesn’t win. This fear is coming from both sides. And it is a fear that must be stopped. We cannot come together as a nation to face the challenges that are certainly ahead of us if we are acting out of fear.

Lately, much of the group-thought the nation seems to be experiencing has been, I believe, being flared by comments against Democrats or Republicans. Stump speeches are more and more turning to rhetoric that levies charges against the opposing party, and seems to ignore the opposing idea. Politicians have ceased to talk about their own policies, or even speak of their opponents policies and why they disagree with them. It has become nothing but partisan bickering – the Republicans destroyed the economy with their unfettered deregulation, the Democrats want to bring us into an era of Socialism – or even Marxism, as one reporter asked Joe Biden about today. But both parties have been in charge when deregulation was voted on, and both parties have voted on a rescue package that is one of the largest socialist expenses the country has ever seen, and includes partial nationalization of the banking system. It’s obvious the partisan attacks, and broad based words that are drumming up fears within the populous are not getting us anywhere productive. So, I propose that at least until after the election, all politicians do their part to unify the country and cease to use the words Republican or Democrat. I think it will be much more difficult for them to go negative when their opponent can’t be placed into a group-think mindset so easily. It might even restore some civility to the process. And it may, just may, even assuage some of the fears of much of the public about what will happen if “the other guy” wins.