Monday, November 24, 2008

Fall in Seattle

Enough about politics, the economy, etc. Time to enjoy the beauty of fall in Seattle.

These images are from the Fremont district, north of downtown Seattle, due west of the University district (and the University of Washington), and east of Ballard and the locks, along the Ship Canal.

It was a beautiful day, but the weather has turned colder although it is still surprisingly clear for Seattle in the fall. The leaves have mostly fallen, and winter is near.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith."
- Sen. Jon Kyl, quoting 2 Timothy 4:7

A very disappointing evening tonight to those of us who supported John McCain's presidential campaign. Obama has made history as the first American of African heritage to be elected president.

McCain's concession speech was as gracious as it was eloquent, and as touching. Unlike his Democrat predecessors in the '04 and '00 elections, McCain called for his supporters to stand behind Obama, to put partisanship behind them, and to work with the president-elect instead of working against him. It was a class act, yet another example of the patriotic selflessness typical of McCain, and perhaps the last major action of his political career. Certainly, at 72, this was McCain's last presidential campaign.

How did Obama do it? By persuading enough voters that he was the person they were looking for as president. I won't go into the merits of Obama's campaign, or his positions; this is his night and he has earned it. I do agree with McCain that the election of a Black man is clearly a sign that, in American, opportunity is not dependent upon one's race or economic background... and that is a good thing. In fact, I can't help but wonder if this spells the end of Affirmative Action; clearly no one can argue that minorities are unduly handicapped by the fact of their race.

Unlike the reaction of most Democrats eight years ago, who angrily proclaimed "Bush is not MY president!" Republicans must accept the will of the voters and our new president. It's the only way we can, hopefully, move beyond the partisan politics that have made honest discussion of serious issues impossible not only in Washington but throughout the country. Obama is our president, and America is our country. Yes, Republicans need to hold Obama accountable but they also need to work with Democrats.

At any rate, I know that Obama's treatment by his political opponents will be far more respectful and positive than Bush's treatment by the Democrats. And, as an American, I hope that Obama can be effective as president, and that he performs well in office. His biggest obstacle will not be the Republicans, it will be the extremists in his own party... and Obama, Pelosi, Reid, et al will not be able to blame Republicans for their failures. He certainly has his work cut out, what with the financial crisis, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the certain challenges that will be thrust upon him by our adversaries. As Biden pointed out, Obama will be tested, and for America's sake I hope he passes.

So, I wish you the best of luck and I wish America great success during your term, Mr. Obama. And, I hope you have the grace and humility to govern wisely and effectively, for our country's sake.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A McCain Rally...

I drove down with several other out-of-state volunteers to attend the last McCain rally in south Florida. Held at the BankUnited Center on the University of Miami campus in Coral Gables, the turnout was amazing for a midnight rally on a Sunday evening. The auditorium holds 8,000 in the seats, and by the time McCain arrived the seats were full and the floor was also packed. I believe there were at least 12,000 people there, and remember this was at midnight on a Sunday with only a day's notice.

The rally opened with several local Latin bands playing salsa and mambo music, and the crowd came alive with people dancing and singing and waving campaign signs. Obviously, in Miami, a disproportionate number of attendees at a Republican campaign rally are going to be Cuban-Americans, but there were numerous folks from many Latin American countries. I talked to a woman who expressed her love for Cuba to me, along with her love for America which she considered her "second mother, the one who embraced me when I fled Casto and everything I had." There was another, older man whom we met, who had been a political prisoner in Cuba for almost thirty years(!), and who had made it to America a few years ago who was as effusive in his praise for McCain as he was vehemently disdainful of Castro. The ache for Cuba that is still present among second- and even third-generation Cuban-Americans, along with their open love for America, convinces me that they would like nothing better than to return to Cuba... and quickly add it to the US as the fifty-first state. Alexandra, the Colombian-American woman who came to the rally with us, told me that the Cubans in many ways were blessed by their forced emigration to America; even though they came here with nothing they worked hard, helped each other to save and invest, and took full advantage of the opportunities here in America to prosper. Ironic, isn't it, that perhaps the people who really understand America and what makes this such an exceptional country are those who came here with nothing.

Another frequent comment by the many people who were originally from other countries was about how Americans really don't understand what socialism means, and what it will do to the US. Many Cubans remarked how the Cuban people originally supported Castro, believing him to be moderate and an improvement over the petty corruption of the Batista regime, and believing his promises only to realize what 'social justice' really meant. No Che Guevara fans here, that's for sure. I heard much the same from a Venezualan-American concerning Chavez. Our Colombian-American companion Alexandra remarked how Americans didn't understand what it was like in much of the world. Her stepmother was kidnapped and ransomed by the guerrillas in Colombia, and she remarked on the level of violence in that country for much of the past three decades. Bombings, assassinations, the kidnapping and murder of judges and other political figures, the rise of the paramilitaries (extra-legal groups of military and police) to combat the terrorists and drug lords who used bribes, extortion, and violence to evade judicial punishment.
Americans, she said, don't understand what it is like to live in such an environment. Perhaps maybe only our military, who have fought against much of this in Iraq, can fully appreciate how good we have it here in America.

After several hours of discussions, dancing, and great music (the above is the third band led by Albita Rodriguez who put on an incredible show), the McCain entourage finally arrived, to thunderous applause and cheering. As McCain has been quoted on television, "Maybe we should have all our rallies at midnight!" In addition to his wife Cindy and his daughter Megan, Kelsey Grammer and his wife Camille, and Joe Liebermann were present. (I have to ask, if Obama is the Great Uniter, why aren't Republican senators at his rallies?)

McCain delivered his rally speech, polished to the bare essentials, and hit his talking points. "Commander-in-Chief versus Redistributor-in-Chief." "If Barack Obama wanted to run against George Bush, he shoulda run four years ago!" He even tried an ad-lib, telling the crowd that, perhaps in Little Havana, "we would have a 'Pepe uno Plumbero'!" It was corny, but the crowd loved it. McCain was interrupted numerous time by thunderous applause, chanting of "John McCain!" and "USA" and clearly seemed to relish the warmth and enthusiasm. Not that I've been to a lot of campaign rallies, but I've been to a few, and this one was by far the most enthusiastic one... just look at the faces in the crowd to understand how strong McCain's support is in south Florida.

After about 20 minutes, McCain wrapped it up with his "Never give up! Fight!" closing, which brought the crowd to its feet throughout the auditorium. The applause and shouting went on for almost a minute, and it was deafening. McCain and his family then made a quick circuit near the stage to shake hands, and then exited stage right to thunderous applause and cheering. The whole experience beat any rock concert I've ever been to.

All in all, a very inspiring event, and one that gives me great hope for McCain to win Florida and then the election.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Idiotic Obama Supporter

So, there I was, taking Exit 104 off of I-95N in south Florida, on my way to the Martin County GOP headquarters to help get out the vote for the presidential election, when a sudden flicker of dark blue on the other side of the boulevard catches my eye. I look over to the other side of the road. There's a male cyclist, . dismounted, leaning over by a series of political signs. He didn't just pull out a McCain/Palin sign, did he?

On a whim, I pull a u-turn at the next break in the median and head back. The cyclist has ridden off before I get there, but I pull over anyway and walk over to the signs. Everyone but McCain/Palin... so I walk over into the weeds and there it is. I put the sign back up and then headed down the road after the cyclist. As I'm approaching him, he stops at another McCain/Palin sign and starts to tug on it. I blow my horn and he turns around, seeing me. I shake my head firmly, pointing to him to stop, but he pulls the sign out and tosses it. I hop out of my car as he rides away on the sidewalk, and put the sign back up, and then follow him again, my camera at the ready. I pull up beside him and take a couple of photos. He acts as if he doesn't see me at first, and then yells "Leave me alone!" After my second photo, he pulls over and stops... and so do I.

ME: Hey, what are you doing??!! You can't be damaging campaign signs!
IDIOT: Uh... a police car saw me and didn't do anything.
ME: That doesn't make it right! What is wrong with you? Don't you understand how unAmerican it is to interfere with a campaign? Don't you respect freedom of speech?
IDIOT: I'm really angry, man. You don't understand!
ME: Your anger doesn't make it right!
IDIOT: You don't understand!
ME: I understand that if someone who hasn't made up their mind sees you damaging McCain signs, that's likely to make them angry enough to vote for McCain. Is that what you want?
IDIOT: No, I don't want that. But I have to stop McCain. I hate him!
ME: What has John McCain ever done to you?
IDIOT: I need to get my wisdom teeth out and if Obama loses I can't afford it. I'm gonna die on the streets if McCain wins!

Now, this guy is riding on a new bike that is in excellent shape. His clothes are clean and fairly new, and he's listening to an iPod. He looks to be a teenager, so am I supposed to believe his parents can't afford $300 a tooth to get his wisdom teeth pulled? Give me a freakin' break! I'm even more convinced that this drama queen is just another immature asshole. So, I have two choices: be an asshole right back or try to get him to admit that what he was doing is wrong in the hope of changing his behavior.

ME: What does that have to do with freedom of speech? Do you think Obama would condone pulling signs out?
IDIOT: Well...
ME: How about Martin Luther King? Do you know why he was beaten and finally killed? Because people didn't like what he was saying and wanted to shut him up. Isn't that what you're doing?
IDIOT: (Crestfallen) I see what you're saying.

With that I let him go. He rode into a neighborhood and I rode on into Stuart. Turns out that the GOP office is constantly having McCain/Palin signs vandalized or stolen, and this costs a lot of money and time. They were interested in the pictures.

Do I think I made a difference? Probably not... but what are you going to do?