samedi 27 septembre 2008

Maxwell Smart!

That's who "the Sherriff" reminds me of, especially during the "I didn't exactly win Miss Congeniality in the senate" part.

The first debate, in its entirety:

So, who did you think carried the debate?

Amazing. 80-90% of Democrats found Obama most convincing on the major issues covered, and 80-90% of the Republicans found McCain the most convincing on the same issues.

Thank goodness for the Independents, among whom there was generally a 60-40% Obama-McCain split.

Women also preferred Obama.

I knew I liked women, and that we could count on us.

And I'll tell you something else, McCain didn't need to use the earmarks process he detests and polices so ferociously; he -- and other US senators and congressmen -- has other ways of getting money to their state or district. As the second-ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2006, McCain was able to direct more than $9 billion for the fiscal year 2007 to the state of Arizona directly through the federal budget.

As soon as a friend of mine gets his earmarks OpEd published, I'll be delighted to share it with you.

What amazes me is that Obama co-sponsored -- with The Sherriff -- the very bill, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, requiring all federal contracts to be listed on the official government website, that allows us to get the information we need to know that earmarks aren't actually necessary to our represenatives to get the money they want for their states and districts, but he doesn't call McCain out on this detail. He nearly does, but he stops short.

That grizzly bear in Montana study he always brings up? Well, that particular study let us know that they are nearly able to be taken off the endangered species list, and that at a total cost of $4.6 million, or only $0.06 to each American family over the same 5-year period that a total of $48.6 billion was spent in Arizona on military contracts.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

The spirit of Hope, and the Electronic Republic

A friend wrote the following to me, as the sun was breaking where he lives in the United States this morning, explaining, "Sorry, the day is breaking here and I am always most hopeful when the sun peaks above the horizon."

So while that spirit - lets call it the spirit of Hope - can be tamped down and trodden upon, it cannot be silenced forever. And when a society imbues itself within that spirit of Hope, then no challenge is too great, no task to burdensome and no goal unreachable.

I believe that.

Of course, it is necessary to believe that when the task before us are as daunting as they are. I also believe that there are enough people out there - people like you, people whom I would have never met, even if just but electronically - who also have that same spirit within them. And that those of us walking together with this spirit will triumph not just on Election Day, but on all of the subsequent days necessary to wrest power from the hands of those who seek naught but their own enrichment and deliver it unto those who seek to enrich our world, indeed to save our world.

I believe that, too.

These are the kind of people I have met through the Obama campaign and this political season.

I am grateful to Barack Obama and his campaign staff for understanding what our generation of Americans -- and we are from not yet 18 to nearly 70, sometimes past -- would do with the opportunity to meet one another electronically and talk, exchange, debate, plan, listen, and get to know one another. Many thousands of us, according to our interests and our affinities.

It has done what Lawrence Grossman thought would be possible and about which he wrote in his 1995 book Electronic Republic: Reshaping American Democracy for the Information Age. I bought the hard cover version when it first came out and read it long before I had a computer, before I was anywhere near being wholly and completely dependent on the Internet. This is Amazon's selection for an excerpt, "... the necessary healthy and vigorous deliberative 'public life of a democracy.' But is that actually the way electronic democracy will operate, or needs to operate in the future? ..."

He was writing at the very beginning. The Obama campaign and the rise of the blogosphere, left and right, independent media like The Huffington Post and, listservs and email, Twitter and Reddit and Digg have answered his question of how an electronic democracy would operate in the future.

I would be interested to see what he would say now and how he would characterize present political life. Everything in which he believed has been shown to work. Information technology has been able to make a community of us, given us a place to meet in which to engage in a "healthy and vigorous deliberative public life".

I am personally very, very grateful for the people I have met here, and I know that many of them will be friends and correspondents for a long time. I know that when I go to San Francisco or Chicago or Miami or Martinsville, VA, I will have friends to call, and to meet for the first time in person.

I also look forward to the development of this tool, to use a very basic word, to do the work of participating in governing in a manner more interactive than MoveOn, which has had its place and will certainly evolve, too.

I am with you, my friend, and all the rest of you on, in that spirit of hope. We are the only ones who can protect our freedom and our democracy from the perfectly plausible fears of Naomi Wolf and Philip Roth, and so many of us who have watched, as though in a bad dream, our government these last 8 years, and longer. It requires, as Lawrence Grossman says, a healthy and vigorous deliberative public life. The public of "public life" is the we, of We, the people.

We aren't about to sit down and be quiet for a long time.
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