Monday, November 10, 2008

Bridging The Partisan Divide

BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD

America has become a bitterly divided nation. The negative campaign of personal attacks and the slimy back-door e-mail rumor mill carried out against Barrack Obama added to the intensity of that division.

Are we to continue the hostility born in the dirty tactics against the Clinton presidency and given impetus by the 2000 election in Florida, which many still consider stolen by the Bushites, partisan state officials, and a partisan Supreme Court?

In a pre-election analysis, a New York Times editorial writer predicted a bitter, angry Republican Party core would become dominant if Obama won the presidency. The writer also forecast that more moderate Republicans would be shunned, while this tight-knit, hard-core right wing base would be in control. If so, the writer argued, Republicans would be in a minority in the nation for years to come.

Even before the votes were counted, Obama was stretching forth his hand in political reconciliation. Let us hope that sensible Republicans accept that, and that they will join in the reform process of making this a better country for all the citizens. Continuing to emote about a smaller, laissez faire government with its hands off business and finance, while touting government intrusion into private, personal, and bedroom affairs, will not work.

While enjoying modestly large traffic in e-mails, this writer has been exposed to the seamy side as well. During the past year he has received all the accusatory e-mail alleging Obama to be unpatriotic, Muslim, a socialist, and terrorist conspirator, and similar bad things.

From time to time, over a period of years, the Militant Moderate has received e-mails touting some extreme version of traditional family and patriotic values, gun rights, accusations of baby-killing, anti-union rights, etc. Most of these promote fear of socialism, Muslims, Jews, or some other subgroup in our society.

But the messages this writer despises the most are those which tell the reader that if they do not agree with the author’s overly zealous points of view, then they are un-American. Further, these messages often state that those who disagree with the sender’s views should leave the country.

Regrettable to say, these come from Republican friends with a Red State mentality, or from other ordinary people who have forgotten about the freedoms guaranteed in America. No one should be thoughtless or cavalier about circulating such un-American slime, and no one should be nonchalant about receiving such.

One anonymous person has made a reply to this Red State threat to run off all who disagree with their “values.” This clever writer from a Blue State, with tongue in cheek, agrees to leave and join with other Blue States in forming a new nation, leaving the Red States to have their own country. The results are interesting.

Blue States would get stem cell research, the Statue of Liberty, Intel, Apple, and Microsoft. They also get all the Ivy League universities, plus Stanford, MIT, CalTech, and the highest rated state universities academically. The Red States get Dollywood, Ole Miss, TCU, and Enron.

Blue States get 85% of the venture capital of entrepreneurs. Blue States get two-thirds of the tax revenue, leaving Red States to raise their fair share of taxes to survive. Since the divorce rate is 22% lower in Blue States, Red States get more of the single moms.

Since Blue States are anti-war, they will want their troops home immediately, leaving southern evangelicals to send more of their own kids to the purposeless war they support. They will also have to raise the $12 billion a month to keep the war in Iraq going.

Blue States will have control of 80% of the fresh water, 90% of the fresh fruit and leafy vegetables, 90% of the cheese, 90% of the high tech industry, and the giant redwoods.

On the other hand, Red States get 88% of the obese Americans and their health care costs, 92% of the mosquitoes, nearly all the tornadoes, 90% of the hurricanes, and 99% of the Southern Baptists and televangelists. They get Rush Limbaugh and Bob Jones University, while Blue States get Hollywood and Yosemite.

Some 60% of those in Red States believe life is sacred – unless gun laws or the death penalty are involved. Forty four percent believe evolution is only a theory, and 52% say Saddam was involved in the 9/11 attack. And, 61% of those in Red States believe their morals are higher than those in Blue States.

These are sobering statistics, even if cited in defensive jest by those who refuse to leave the country when told to do so.

Strong nuances of this prevalent kind of thinking came out several times on the McCain and Palin campaign trails. Palin, in particular, commended local audiences several times about being the “real America,” implying that other people in other places are not real Americans. Obvious rednecks, such as Joe the Liar and Fake Plumber, are touted as folk heroes.

Antagonistic, hostile crews do a poor job of running a railroad, and a divided, hostile people do a poor job of putting a nation back on a strong economic, social, and military base. It is time for the Republicans to join with the rest of Americans to work for what is good for all of us.

The author, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Reconciliation Agenda

That vision must capture the American dream,
And in the teary eyes of its people gleam.


BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD

Oh, the audacity of hope! Hope swells eternal within the human breast, and it impels us onward toward our vision of destiny. So has it happened in these United States of America.

The gallantry of Barack Obama in extending the friendly hand of reconciliation on election eve was matched only by the graciousness of Sen. John McCain in response. Strangely enough, President Bush rose a bit in the eyes of this observer, as he made his welcoming and perspective speech in the Rose Garden on the morning after.

America is truly a wonder in a world where so often power changes hands by violence.

Not simply to offer another set of comments from the land of punditry, this writer would like to cite some personal observations of Election Day and its aftermath.

Perhaps most touching the heart strings of emotion was the sight of the old warrior, Jesse Jackson, standing toward the forefront of the Chicago celebration with tears streaming unabashedly down his cheeks. That which could not be accomplished by the confrontational tactics of civil rights activism had occurred naturally in the emergence of a new, dynamic, young leader from his race who successfully touched hands, hearts, and minds of the electorate to win the coveted prize of the presidency.

One could not help but note the conciliatory stance of such assertive civil rights activists as the Rev. Al Sharpton, who had followed after Jackson in previous unsuccessful efforts to capture a place in the presidential race. These less popular black Americans took great pride in the accomplishment of one who had come into leadership through his appeal to all the people.

America has become a bitterly divided nation. The negative campaign of personal attacks and the slimy back-door e-mail rumor mill carried out against Barrack Obama have added to the intensity of that division.

Are we to continue the hostility born in the dirty tactics against the Clinton presidency and given impetus by the 2000 election in Florida? Many still consider the election stolen by the Bushites, partisan state officials, and a partisan Supreme Court.

According to an editorial writer in the New York Times, we can expect a bitter, angry Republican Party core to become dominant in the wake of Obama’s victory. More moderate Republicans will be shunned, he thinks, while this tight-knit, hard-core right wing base will be in party control. If so, the writer argues, Republicans will be in a minority in the nation for years to come.

Mr. Obama has already been stretching forth his hand in political reconciliation. Let us hope that sensible Republicans will accept that, and that they will join in the reform process of making this a better country for all the citizens. Continuing to emote about a smaller, laissez faire government with its hands off business and finance, while touting government intrusion into private, personal, and bedroom affairs, will not work.

It is time for Americans to come together to bring a new era into our national government.

The author, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer

Monday, November 3, 2008

Clear Differences

BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD

Unfortunately, the current election is not being approached with proper respect for either democratic principles or the ideals which should govern the manner in which election campaigns are conducted.

Nationally, the candidate of the party in power has waged his entire election battle by attacking and trying to denigrate his opponent. The challenger offers a theme of change and outlines the essentials of programs designed to accomplish those changes.

One candidate offers vision, and he challenges and inspires voters toward a better life. He urges youth to aspire, and he seeks to provide a path for those aspirations to be reached through education and opportunity.

The other candidate screams false allegations and personal accusations irrelevant to the issues and concerns of the people. He vows to continue his party’s past governing style, under which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Under the rule of the party in power, science has been scorned, education demeaned, and intelligence and culture scoffed as elitist. The nation has been run into financial bankruptcy at home, and its world reputation ruined. That party candidate rants and raves, but he offers little.

The candidate of the challenging party has inspired millions with his vision of a new and different country, governed by new and different principles and real human values.

His vision encompasses a nation at peace, and one respected in the world for its ideals. His vision is one of a population enjoying the opportunity for decent health care and an opportunity for higher education for their youth.

He seeks equal treatment under the law, and protection of all rights granted by the nation’s Constitution. He seeks a tax plan which will spread prosperity rather than concentrating it with a few.

One candidate envisions a gentler, kinder, more peaceful nation where citizens come together to ensure prosperity for all. The other offers little other than the subjugation of the middle and lower classes to continued exploitation, aided and abetted by a government that favors the powerful.

Sadly, politics in Oklahoma have reached a new low. The incumbent senator is an embarrassment to the state, yet he is likely to continue on through a business-supported campaign aimed toward the less educated, shallow thinking voters.

Most other campaigns of candidates for national office seem similarly conceived, repetitive of time-worn clich├ęs that appeal to that same clientele.

What a shame!

The American dream of democracy is a wonderful thing. Every once in a while it blossoms amidst the thorns of greed and special interests.

The following poem, written by this author a decade or so ago, offers a tribute to that idealism which Americans can bring to the democratic elective process:

VISION

“Where there is no vision the people perish,”
So the great source of wisdom does foretell.
Vision in their leaders is the people’s wish,
As they seek their inner fears to quell,
And prepare to choose in time-respected way.
Vision, dream, and promise become confused,
Which and whither are most difficult to say,
One after one, aspiring leaders stand refused.

Whoever seeks to lead, a vision must display,
The heads and hearts of followers to sway.
And about the people cast enchanting spell
With volition of vision, kinetic to impel.
Into diverse, fenced minds of men infused,
Into the life blood of this land transfused.
The vision must capture the American dream,
And in the teary eyes of its people gleam.

A leader’s vision touches the hearts of men,
And inspires tired and weary souls to sing,
As they rise to the gloried heights again.
Once more the air has fresh breath of spring,
And men go forth to redeem their self-esteem;
While their blithesome spirits rise on wing.
Heads are held high and dimmed faces beam,
As America pursues its improbable dream.


- The author, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Send Jim Packing

BY RICHARD G. POULTON

In reference to the Tulsa World’s endorsement of Jim Inhofe for re-election to the U.S. Senate, I am incensed! The justifications you cited speak only to unbending partisanship and parochialism.

As to his partisanship, it is fair to ask what percentage of the time did he vote with the Bush agenda over the past seven years. Your endorsement noted a lone instance when he broke with the president. In general, this crucial statistic should be disclosed to provide an objective means for measuring Inhofe’s true effectiveness in office.

Specifically, what voting or diversionary responsibility does he bear for legislation, or lack thereof, in areas such as deregulation of finance, insurance and bank institutions; preferential treatment for special interests; and critical environmental matters?

Your editorial staff praises the senator’s efforts on behalf of people living in the Tar Creek area. After long years of his denial and diminishment of their plight living on a toxic waste dump, the residents of Picher finally had the good fortune of being hit by a tornado. Only then did the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee take overdue action to help a population that was primarily known in terms of its cancer rate.

Finally, Inhofe has become the poster-boy for ignorance on the subject of global warming. Whether it be serious documentaries or national news reporting on this matter, he is frequently referenced as the champion for its non-existence. What kind of a tornado would it take to get his attention here?

Oklahomans should be embarrassed by this kind of representation. It’s not tough willed; it’s either stubbornly dumb or corrupt, or both.

Our country is in serious trouble today, with plenty of suffering for all. Those who were on the watch as our problems festered and exploded should be held accountable.

In recognition of this fine state of affairs, I endorse Jim Inhofe for retirement on Nov. 4th. He’s earned it!

The author lives in Tulsa

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Democratic Values

BY BRUCE TREADAWAY

My life has been spent in Oklahoma. I was born at the Fort Sill Army Hospital after my dad returned from the Big War, World War II. He was a life-long Democrat. He never voted Republican. He was a child during the Depression, and he lived first-hand the Dust Bowl, the Depression, and everything that went with those two catastrophic events.

After World War II, he never favored another war. He knew the horrors of war personally. He was one of the first to enter the Nazi prison camps, and the horror he witnessed was something that he took to his grave.

He's gone now, but he left values with me.

He taught me that taxes are a part of being a citizen. He didn't much care for them, but he paid his share. My grandfather paid his share, and my great-grandfather before him paid his share.

He taught me that ignorance causes people to vote Republican. He never understood how small farmers and teachers could vote Republican. It's a phenomena that Americans vote for politicians who are against what they do for a living.

He taught me to care about other people, and he taught me that life is a trip and I should enjoy the ride. He certainly did. My dad was special to me, as was my great-grandfather.

When politicians promote tax cuts, they insult the memory of my forefathers. The roads that we have, the schools that we enjoy, everything that this country has, was bought and paid for by previous generations. It denigrates their memories to cut taxes the way this state and nation have done. Let's not hear about tax cuts.

I'm a Democrat, and I'm sick and tired of being called a liberal pansy. If someone wants to call me that to my face, then come on, but don't lump all Democrats in one group.

My dad spent his youth fighting for this country, as did his brothers. Many of those who refer to Democrats as liberal pansies haven't worn the uniform.

Don't insult my dad's memory and all the other soldiers that this great nation has been home to by the weak practice of calling names.

It's time for us to take back this country from the perverted group in charge. What has always been good about America is that this country cares about other countries and its citizens.

It's time to return to the values that we all cherish. Vote Democrat!

The author lives in Minco, OK

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

'Politics Makes Me Sick'

BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD

Politics make me sick! I am tired of politics! I’ll be glad when this election is over! How often do we hear these expressions lately?

Well, politics do make us sick! In particular, it is the stench that emanates from John McCain’s and Sarah Palin’s dirty, stinking negative campaign that makes us sick. While we can recall some really bad TV commercials in previous elections, we cannot remember as deceitfully negative and dirty stump speeches coming from the candidates own mouths on the campaign trail.

These Republican candidates will apparently do anything and say anything to get elected. Worse, they bundle themselves in the flag and patriotism while practicing their abominations.

What is this about being “pro-America” and “anti-America?” What is this about Obama’s being a socialist because his tax plan rolls back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy to 2000 rates? What’s this about “palling around with terrorists?” And, Joe the plumber – what a red herring, and a fake one at that!

One seems to recall a quotation: “The truth is not in them.”

We have seen the Republicans during the past eight years try to label dissent as treason. “If you are not for us, you are against us,” they have been saying. Then they equate that with being anti-American.

One Republican congresswoman is declaring that the Democrats in Congress are anti-American. She also says that Obama is anti-American. Palin and McCain declare certain sections of the country to be “pro-American” and others as “anti-American.”

What kind of rhetoric is that?

Republican campaign tactics have repeatedly assured that whoever wins a presidential election will have a deeply divided, polarized, antagonistic nation to try to govern. Our country’s almost evenly divided citizens line up hostile to one another.

This has happened before. It happened in the past two elections. George W. Bush’s people fought dirty. When he could not defeat Al Gore, it went to the Supreme Court, where the case was decided on a party line vote and not on its merits. Yes, that left many of us hostile.

Bush’s second election was no better. The domination of the airways with anonymously financed advertising from the “Swift-boat” liars attacking distinguished war records turned the tide for Bush. The name has become synonymous with low-down, lying, filthy politics.

But it goes back farther to the Clinton Administration. Republicans spent eight years in legal and media harassment of the Clintons. This included bribing witnesses to give false stories to reporters and writers, investigating business dealings that were later cleared, and then trying to prosecute and impeach the president for lousy private, personal conduct.

Clinton never had a closely knit country to govern. Bush squandered a degree of mutual support after 9/ll by conspiring to falsify facts and giving spurious reasons to go into an unnecessary war against a country that had no part in the attack. His whole time has been a disaster.

Republicans have pushed a divisive agenda during these last eight years. Attempts to privatize Social Security come to mind. Tax cuts for the wealthy, particularly on income derived from wealth [dividends, capital gains, and inheritances], have proven divisive – especially as budget deficits increase and the middle class suffers lost jobs and losses in buying power.

McCain has been as much a loose chicken during this last economic calamity as was Bush during the hours after the strike on the World Trade Center in New York – from continuing to read “My Pet Goat” to flying hither and yon around the country for hours.

Who can truthfully say McCain is the one to lead the country out of this or any other crisis?

McCain’s campaign has had no focus, except to denigrate Obama. He has no finite proposals on which he can stand bravely and tell middle class people the real truth.

McCain’s choice of a vice president reveals his bad judgment. His desperate attempts to discredit Obama through any and all means, ethical or not, reveal his own character flaws.

The author, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, Oklahoma and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Importance Of David Letterman

BY DANNY M. ADKISON

With the last debate over and two weeks to go before the presidential election, there are two important questions to consider.

First, who asked the candidates the toughest question? Second, who made this statement during a debate? “I need to say little to convince [voters] of the necessity which presses us into a pursuit of this measure. They know that our national debt is considerable; this together with domestic debt, is of great magnitude, and it will be attended with the most dreadful consequences to let these run into confusion and ruin, for want of proper regulations to keep them in order.”

Let’s take the second question first. This is what students call a trick question. That’s because it did occur during the debate, but it was the debate over the creation of the Department of the Treasury in the first Congress in May of 1787.

It’s not just a “gotcha” question. It points out that the issues don’t seemingly change much over the decades [or even centuries].

Politicians debate taxes and spending priorities. Yet, we know that for the voters that stay undecided and are not seriously attached to any particular candidate, issues are not that important.

In spite of what your eighth or ninth grade civics teacher may have told you, most of these voters – and they will probably decide the election – are not basing their votes on the two major political parties’ platforms or the candidates’ plans for what they will do once in office. On the contrary, most vote based on how they feel about the past four years.

In these circumstances, political parties [again, contrary to your civics teachers lessons] play an important role. They provide the retrospective voter with a rational choice. If they like the way things are going, they vote for the incumbent; if not, they vote for the challenger.

The problem is that the 22nd Amendment limited the voters’ choices. Presidents Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush could not run for a third term.

This is why Barack Obama has sought to tie his opponent to the policies of President Bush. After all, John McCain is the Republican Party nominee. On the other hand, you don’t hear McCain reminding voters much about his affiliation with the Republican Party.

The proverbial Martian would think that the strong third party in America is the Maverick Party.

Which brings us to the first question.

McCain may or may not be similar to President Bush. He may or may not continue the economic and foreign policies of his predecessor. That doesn’t really matter. What matters to the voters is whether McCain will perform more like Bush or bring genuine change.

All three debates taken together should be enough to supply voters with the answer to this question. But the individual who came the closest to exposing the answer was not a journalist. It was David Letterman.

Letterman pressed McCain like no journalist has. He pressed him on three major points, all of which went to the issue of character and image.

The first was Sarah Palin. It was clear that Letterman, like most Americans, does not believe she is presidential material. He obviously couldn’t get McCain to admit this, but he made his point nevertheless.

Second, Letterman pointed out that it was ridiculous for McCain’s running mate to say Obama had palled around with terrorists. McCain finally admitted that these are just things you say during a campaign.

Then, finally, Letterman brought up Joe the Plumber.

Letterman knew from news reports that Joe was not a licensed plumber and that literally everything [that is not an exaggeration], everything McCain had said about Joe and his financial situation [both real and under an Obama administration] was wrong.

Just as the McCain camp did not know exactly what they were getting with Palin, they were surprised to discover that Joe the Plumber was what Thomas Frank, author of the book What’s The Matter With Kansas? calls a winger.

Joe, it turns out, made just over $40,000 last year, owes back taxes, and isn’t even a licensed plumber. He can’t pay his taxes but he wants to buy a business worth over a quarter of a million dollars?

Here is the overall perception with which the voters are left when viewing the McCain campaign as we head for the home stretch: Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber, and a rather shrill McCain.

Is McCain, to place it in the context of one of the more memorable moments of the last debate – selection of Supreme Court justices – the individual voters want to entrust the selection of justices [who serve until they die, resign, or are impeached and removed from office]?

As Frank puts it in his new book The Wrecking Crew, “Never again will conservatives shoulder the blame for catastrophes like the Great Depression or even the many blunders of the Bush years; no matter how much of it they control, the government is never theirs, and they cannot be held responsible for its actions.”

The author teaches constitutional law at Oklahoma State University and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer.