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Mike's Soapbox - Best 2008 Rants

1/9 - General:  Union Puppeteer - I was sitting in traffic behind a truck the other that had a bumper sticker that read "Proud to be a Union Pipefitter."

For some odd reason, I thought it said "Proud to be a Union Puppeteer."  

That started me thinking, do puppeteers belong to unions?

After all, television and movie writers are apparently in a union, so why not puppet artists?

But does anyone actually admit to being a puppeteer?  Well, besides Frank Oz, Jim Henson, and Wayland Flowers? 

2/6 - Politics:  Caucus coup - I grew up in a military family.  I grew up Republican.  Why?  Because the Republicans were always the ones who voted for military pay raises.  And, that was pretty much THE issue in my family.

But, as I got older, I saw the Republican party change to a party of religious wackos, advocating stuff like intelligent design, and then I saw them turn most recently into a party that advocates surveillance and limiting free speech.  Free speech has become my defining issue.

Last night, I went to the Democratic caucus to advocate for Obama.  And the big difference between a caucus and a primary is that at a caucus, you have the opportunity to add things to the Democratic party platform.

And last night, as odd as it sounds, I staged a coup at the Democratic caucus.  How?  I got the Democratic party in my precinct to vote for military pay raises.

It was hard, though.  The party was full of peaceniks who had a hard time differentiating between the war in Iraq and the poor guys and gals who have to fight it.  They also didn't understand the concept of the "all-volunteer force" - "What?  The National Guard didn't volunteer to go to Iraq!"  No, but the people in the National Guard did volunteer to join the National Guard, and the people in the military did volunteer knowing there was a chance they could get called to fight a war.

What I think finally convinced them this was good thing was 1) if we don't give incentives for people to join the military, we'll end up with a draft again and 2) the group of Vietnam vets who finally realized that taking care of the troops fighting an unpopular war was a good thing.

In other news, we got the local precinct to abandon gun control as a central plank, but we still all stood together for an end to the war in Iraq, protection of civil liberties, improving the environment, and a drive to find new sources of energy.

Oh, and I am convinced that the people who most want universal health care have never experienced universal health care.

The democratic process is alive and well in America.

2/25 - Entertainment:  Gay Super Bowl - Last night was the Oscars, or as I call it, the "gay Super Bowl"!

One of my gay friends wished me a "happy Oscar night".  He was geeked up about it, kind of like how I was about the Super Bowl.

I missed most of it, as I was out at a basketball game, but then again, I didn't see most of the movies that were nominated (the consequences of having a 4-year-old kid) and the one movie that I thought was the best of the year - Zodiac - was shut out of the awards.

Anyway, hope you all had a happy Oscar night!

Entertainment:  Diablo Cody's Oscar Dress - So, I watched the Oscars, or as I discovered it can also be referred to "the Gay Super Bowl" (see above). And I saw Diablo Cody's dress. When I saw her animal print dress, all I could think of was that it looked like a muumuu.

Seriously. The thing was monstrously ugly, and looked dead on like a muumuu. (If you don't believe me, check out this blog that has a video of it.)

Anyway, I was trying to figure out why Diablo would choose this dress for the Oscars.

The answer can be found in one of her older blog entries from two years ago. Enjoy.

5/21 - Politics:  The Election Madness - So, we're halfway through the 2008 election (actually, way more than halfway, seeing as how the 2008 election season started in November 2004), and I have yet to post a long rambling rant about the election.

So here goes:

I support Obama.  I see his hope for change.  I see him as an outsider.  I believe in his message.

I think that Hillary Clinton is just in this race for herself.  I do.  And her attitude of entitlement and refusal to back out of this race shows that - she cares more about herself than she does about the country.

I have seen Obama messages everywhere - people are energized by him.  A few people I know who don't usually vote are energized about the possibility of Obama becoming president.  I have never seen a political candidate in my lifetime that has people so energized.

The only problem is that I have seen that energy sapped over the past two months, and I think it all has to do with this crap about being an elitist or the Reverend Wright scandal, all of which was done by the Clinton campaign.

Is Obama an elitist?  All of the candidates are elitists.  If you want a non-elitist candidate for President, then vote for Darrel Hunter. Otherwise, expect some degree of being out of touch with the people.  After all, to be any kind of politician these days, one must be rich, on the road, and away from home.  The days of a guy plowing his field, running for office, serving as a politician, and then returning to plow his field are, unfortunately, long gone.

As far as McCain, I want to like the guy, but his association with the Bush Administration has me concerned.  As does his vocal support for furthering this seemingly endless war in Iraq.  Where's Osama bin Laden?  Everyone seems to have forgotten what the war on terror is about.

Everyone points to Obama about his lack of experience.  While on the surface, this might seem like a liability, for me it's an asset.  How?  If Obama doesn't have the experience, he also doesn't have the long history with lobbyists, the political favors and connections, and the corruption that all politicians seem to have this day.  This country needs a new fresh leadership.  If he is inexperienced, for me, it doesn't matter.  After all, when it comes to being President, NONE of the candidates have experience.  And after George W. Bush, it's pretty hard to point at his wealth of "experience" and say that anyone is less than experienced.  George W. Bush set the bar so low, I think my cat could do a better job of being president.

Anyway, there it is.  I support Obama, I support Hillary dropping out of the race, I support the troops in Iraq by wanting to bring them home and going after the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and I support the United States of America.

6/10 - Spam:  What's worse than spam? - Some of you who are in correspondence with me may have noticed that my e-mail address recently changed.


The answer to that question is the same as the answer to this riddle:  What is worse than spam?

Answer:  When some idiot spammer uses your e-mail address as his/her sender address.  Yes, that's right, some idiot spammer used my address as the "reply to" address, so I was swamped with over 500 e-mails per hour until I said "f- it" and just deleted the thing.  I got tired of my real e-mail getting bounced because my inbox was full.  So, that's why I had to change my e-mail.

Idiot spammers.  You may have one this battle, but I'm not done with the war yet.

6/25 - Entertainment:  Tit for Tat? Tat for Tit? -  I am sure that everyone is aware of the political poker game that often gets played by nations when they deal with diplomats.  A Chinese embassy staffer gets busted for espionage, and so the US kicks him out.  In response, the Chinese identify some poor American staffer and kick him out.  We kick out three Russian diplomats, and the Russians respond by expelling three American diplomats.  Yeah, I don't get it - if you are busted for a crime and get booted from a country, expelling some other poor schmuck doesn't really save your country face any.  But, it happens.

But, I am intrigued if two events that occurred this week are related to the game of tit-for-tat.

First, on Saturday, the UK said they would not allow Martha Stewart to enter the country.  It seems her felony conviction is the culprit.  So, Martha Stewart can't go to Britain.

But then, yesterday, the US said that Boy George can't enter the United States.   The State Department won't comment, which makes it all the more suspicious.

Some say it is due to Boy's (or is it George's?) upcoming trial for false imprisonment.  But I think I know the real reason: someone in the State Department is a huge Martha fan and decided to do the tit-for-tat thing.

9/8 - General:  Where have I been? - It's been a while since I had a rant, and I promised you an explanation.

A few months ago, I quit my job.  It was a difficult decision, and one I didn't take lightly, but I needed to do it, and I have never been happier.  Hey, happiness might actually be one of the reasons I haven't ranted.

But I have been keeping busy working on my second novel.  Day in and day out, I have been writing.  So the last thing I want to do after a busy day of writing is, well, come here and write some more.

But now, after watching Obama's lead slip away and the scariness that is Sarah Palin dominate the media, I finally felt the compelling need to rant.

So I'm back.

Now, a few of you have written to ask me about my novels, so here goes.  The first one, "The Human Quest", is about the survivor of a spacecraft crash on an alien planet who tries to make his way home to earth.  Yes, it sounds like Farscape.  Yes, it sounds like Battlestar Galactica.  But when you see the twists I have written into the story starting at Chapter 1, you will soon see that this is unlike either of those two stories.  Everyone who has read it and thinks they know how it will go is surprised as says "Wow, I've never seen anything like that."

My second novel, "The Seer", is about a guy who can see the future.  This one is a more personal story and takes place in contemporary times, making it actually in the genre of "urban fantasy."  Again, people tell me that they don't think this idea is very original, and to be honest, I didn't think it was either.  Problem was that ever since I had this original idea in 2003, it has never left me.  Every so often, it comes back into my consciousness, and as I tell people, this is a story that wants to be written.  As much as I say, "This story won't work," the story won't go away.  I finally decided I needed to put it down on paper and end the story.  So far, I'm pleased with the results.

So, that's where I have been.  Oh, and there are lots of other rants I have passed on that I will get back to, like the fact that odd-number Star Trek Movies and even-number Indiana Jones movies suck.  Seriously.  Have you seen the last movie?  Let's just say that whoever came up with the term "nuking the fridge" was brilliant.  As soon as I saw that scene, the movie was over for me.  As with Armageddon, gravity is not just a good idea, it's the law.

So, there you have it, and maybe this time, I'll stick around for a while.

6/13 - Politics:  A sign of the times - In a sign of the times, Barack Obama's campaign announced today that they are launching a new web site to fight the rumors going around about who he is.  The site - - promises to clear up the recent rumors about him.

It's sad that he should have to do this, but apparently, it must be done.  What I can't figure out is that the same people who get upset at Obama's association with his Christian minister Reverend Jeremiah Wright are the same ones who still think he is a Muslim because his middle name is Hussein and think he'll be sworn in on a Koran.  They condemn him for being associated with a Christian and being a Muslim.  In short, they don't like him and won't ever will.  At least he's trying to head off this year's version of a "swift boat" ad.  It's just sad that it is something he has to do.  

But I can't figure out why the conservatives are spreading these rumors.  Nor can I figure out why they are going after their other target:  that's right, they're going after Rachel Ray.  Conservatives pressured Dunkin Donuts into pulling an ad featuring Rachel Ray because they thought she was wearing an Arabic scarf.   Huh?  Islamophobia has gone too far.  Rachel Ray is NOT a terrorist - nor is anyone who wears an Arabic scarf.  A very good friend of mine was Palestinian, and he wore one like we would wear a baseball hat.  It's like I said after September 11th and I say it again now - every time we stereotype anything Arabic or Muslim as associated with the terrorists, the terrorists win.  They want us to hate and fear Arabs and Muslims, and as long as we as a society continue to do that - and this pulling of the ad is proof of that - they win.

Besides, is Rachel Ray's scarf and Obama's middle name really the only things to worry about?  What about the fact that the President and much of his cabinet lied and mislead the country into the war in Iraq?  How about the fact that he appears eager to do it again in Iran?  That is what everyone should be focused on.

Well, I guess that's a sign of the times.

9/24 - Politics:  The issues that are important to me - Someone on another forum asked me what issues were important to me this year, and I thought it was a great question.

Here is my response:

- Fixing the economy. This includes limiting payouts to CEOs. I want to be a CEO. If I do a great job, I get paid a huge multi-million dollar bonus. If I do a terrible job, you have to buy me out of my contract for multi-million dollars. Win or lose, I make millions! It also mean protecting companies from outsourcing things to other countries; moving your corporate HQ to Bermuda to avoid paying corporate taxes should be prohibited (or at least result in equally high trade tariffs).

- Getting the US out of Iraq and back to fighting the terrorists. Al-Qaeda - the one in Pakistan allied with the Taliban - attacked us. We need to go after them before they destabilize nuclear-armed Pakistan. We also need to go after the real source of the extremists - Saudi Arabia. Someone once said that it wasn't the role of the US military to play the world's policeman, but that campaign promise was promptly forgotten.

- Being honest with the American people. This is never going to happen, but I am so sick of "spin". Come on, we know it was a mistake - or a lie - so just own it. Quit trying to go through the BS of trying to explain what you "meant to say" when we all know you meant what you said.

- The imbalance of power. The executive branch of this country has unprecedented power. I once saw Congressman Kline speak in Eagan prior to the invasion of Iraq, and when someone asked him when we were going into Iraq, his answer was "Whenever the President decides we will." I seem to remember the founders specifically gave the Congress - as representative of the people - the right to declare war. That's not to say that the war in Iraq was wrong, but just to say that if we are going to involve this country in a war, let's do it through the will of the people with a true declaration of war as the framers of the Constitution intended.
-- Further, the executive branch has authorized warrantless wiretaps without oversight; the endless incarceration of American citizens in detention without trial and without access to lawyers; the unjustified firing of civil servants who don't agree with the party line; and now they want us to give them a $700B blank check without strings attached AND the immunity from any future prosecution for anything that happens as a result of it?
-- Change "United States" to "China" with any of the above statements, and we would have a thousand rallying cries about how inhumane they are. The fact that "we" do it and not "them" results in quite a deafening silence.
-- And with all of this I think no one President - not Bill Clinton and not George W. Bush - should ever be allowed to hold that much power.

- Protecting our liberties. Our free speech, our right to firearms, our right to assembly, our right to freedom of religion, and all of the other rights are what make us Americans. If we give those up, maybe the terrorists do win.

- Seeing things grey. Not every issue is black and white, although it seems that is what the politicians want us to think. Compromise is gone. It's an all or nothing stake these days and to be for one issue means you must automatically be for the others.

- No universal health care. Universal health care sounds great; we'll all have the same health care plan! Well, I've had universal health care in the military, and to be honest, I didn't like it. I'm all for ensuring that everyone in this country has access to some health care, but I don't like the idea of a "one-sized-fits-all" plan.

- Give the troops a pay raise. The troops have been doing an outstanding job protecting this country, and despite what you may think about the war one way or the other, I am grateful to the troops for fighting this war so that I don't have to. Many of them live just above the poverty level, and I think they need a pay raise. I'm willing to forego my tax deduction to know that I have an expert force ready to protect me from harm, that doesn't have to worry about whether they can make the ends meet back home. I don't see my taxes any different from my insurance premiums. And if we want to keep the military as an all-volunteer force, we need to keep the incentives there - including pay and education benefits - to keep it all-volunteer.

- Increased veterans' benefits. If we send the troops into harms way, it is only right that we take care of them after the war is over. We can wave the flag and beat the drum when we send the troops into battle; can we also do it when they come home?

9/9 - Politics:  Sarah Palin - I have to admit - I was shocked when John McCain picked Sarah Palin.

I thought for months that he would pick the Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.  Granted, I had my own reasons for wanting this - namely that if McCain were to be elected we'd get a new governor, but I do have to admit that I think that Tim Pawlenty would be great Vice President.

But when he picked Sarah Palin, I thought John McCain lost his mind.  It was clearly such a pandering to get the votes of women, that I thought the American people would see through it.  It was the worst pick since Dan Quayle.  Yeah, where is Quayle now?  Exactly.  (For the record, he too was chosen to appeal to women for his youth and good looks.)

In the Stupid Links, I have a link to a voice mail in which someone has recorded a message for how they think the conversation between McCain and Palin went.

I like to imagine the conversation between McCain and Pawlenty, however, went something like this:

"Hello, Tim?  It's John McCain.  Look, I know you've been working hard for me for the past two years campaigning tirelessly for me across the upper Midwest.  Yes, I know that you took some heat for neglecting your state to go campaign in Michigan, and I'd like to reward you with the coveted VP slot.  Unfortunately, though, you lack a vagina.  So, good luck with the Minnesota thing.  Oh, and is it too late to tell you that we'll likely screw you by canceling the start of the convention over Labor Day resulting in losses in thousands of dollars in cancelled hotel rooms over the busy holiday season?  Sorry about that.  Bye!"

10/1 - Politics:  Minnesota Politics - So, as most of you know, I live in Minnesota.

And for you who don't live in Minnesota, here are some answers to questions I am sure you have:

1.  Yes, Al Franken is running for Senate.
2.  Yes, that Al Franken.
3.  No, I am not supporting him.

Al Franken - who was born in Minnesota but lived most of his life in New York City - is running for Senate here in opposition to Norm Coleman.  He makes the point that Norm is an out-of-stater; Norm is almost in direct contrast to Al.  While Norm was born in NY, he has lived in Minnesota for over 30 years.

Al's campaign is basically: Norm is evil and needs to go.  Al says that Norm voted for the war in Iraq AND that Norm voted with President Bush too much.

Okay, but how will Al be different?

Al has made a good case about why Norm isn't a good senator, but what he hasn't done is convince the voters that Al can be a better alternative.  You can't run a campaign on "I'm not Norm Coleman" - especially when you are Al Franken.

I liked Al's satirical book "Why Not Me?" in which he lampooned the 2000 presidential race.  However, eight years later, we don't know if Al is being serious this time or if it is another satire.

Norm has done some great stuff for Minnesota, and as much as I don't like the fact that he supported the war in Iraq (something that Hillary Clinton also supported) and the fact that he supports Bush, I do have to admit that he has done a lot of great things for the state.

So, for me the decision comes down to between a guy who did a couple of things I don't agree with and a lot of good and a guy who has no political history and really doesn't bring much to the table except a lot of talk about how he would vote against the war in Iraq and hates the President.

And, as much as I hate to admit it, Norm Coleman is a lot funnier than Al.  If you don't believe me, check out Norm's ad!

10/8 - Politics:  I know who Sarah Palin is - It took me a while to make the connections, but during the VP debate, I was struck with an "A-Ha!" moment.

Sarah Palin is the female George W. Bush. 

No wonder the conservatives like her so much.

It wasn't until she said "nucular" a dozen times that I made the connection, but here goes:

1.  She tries to adopt this folksy persona of "Hockey Mom"/Joe Six Pack, just like Bush uses his good ole down-home southern Texas drawl (even though he is from New England).

2.  She is oblivious to how government works.  (Did you see her answer about the role of VP?  It's obvious she STILL doesn't know what the VP does.)

3.  She wants more power for the role of the VP.  (See above.)

4.  She can't pronounce words properly or remember the names of Generals (or world leaders... or Supreme Court cases... or newspapers...)

5.  She is an idiot.

Yes, 5 simple facts that prove she is a female version of George W. Bush.

And Sarah - either you are a skilled political leader with a breadth of executive office experience OR you're just a good ole hockey mom who is a political outsider - BUT YOU CAN'T BE BOTH!  PICK ONE!

And I found the fact that she ignored most of the questions in the debate and gave her own answers, which often had nothing to do with the questions asked, completely disrespectful.  Of course, I am sure her supporters ate it up.  "Look at her go; she ain't going to take orders from anyone!  Yeehaw!"

BTW, Sarah - in the future, your answer to "What is your biggest Achilles heel?" should be "I don't know what I am talking about."  That or this great response!

10/26 - Politics:  The Tactics of the 2008 Campaign - I had an Obama sign in my front yard.

Someone stole my Obama sign.

Undaunted, I bought a new one today.  Gee, I had to spend another $6 on a sign; no wonder Obama is raising more money than McCain.

But it was funny that all the Obama signs on the street were stolen, but all of the McCain signs were untouched, leading me to believe it was politically motivated and NOT a youthful prank.

It speaks volumes, however, that in McCain's campaign of fear - fear of the economy, fear of terrorism - that people act on that fear and strike out in this act of intimidation.

So, I had two choices - simply go without a sign or act like I did after 9/11.

Because, let's face it - terrorists blowing up the towers and people stealing campaign signs aren't all that different when you look at the motives; they're cowardly acts designed to instill fear.

So, what I did was to get a BIGGER sign and MORE signs and make my pro-Obama statement even louder and more obnoxious.

I spent too many years in the military fighting for freedom to support ANY candidate and to freely express that - especially on your own property - for me to respond any other way.

10/29 - Politics:  Election 2004: War in Iraq and the Surge - A lot of talk has happened about the surge.  "The surge is working" some of the candidates say.

There's only a few things I can counter with, and they are important.  First, if the surge was so damned effective, why did it take us four years to implement it?

But secondly - and most importantly - what do we do AFTER the surge?

When I was in the military, we routinely understood that a surge was a tool at our disposal.  However, they warned us of the problems with implementing a surge.  You see, when you implement a surge, you basically double your manning, cancel leave (vacations), and go full-bore for a period of time until you get the situation under control, at which time, you can relax back to normal.

In my logistics assignment, our rule of thumb was that when we implemented 60 days of surge, we had to expect about 120 days of post-surge turmoil until things could return to normal.  Why?  Because during that 60-day surge cycle, we'd work everyone extra hours, we'd cancel leave, and maintain round-the-clock operations until we could get the job done.  After the surge, though, we'd have to give everyone the time off that we took away from them during the surge, we'd have to try and get everything back into order. 

So, back in 2007, President Bush sent 20,000 additional troops to Iraq and cancelled the return orders for 4,000 Marines under the idea of a surge.  But, we haven't withdrawn troops down to pre-surge levels.  What happens in Iraq when we do withdraw down to pre-surge levels?  Will it go back to sectarian violence, or will the peace hold?

Further, what happens to the troops following the drawdown in Iraq?  Will they have time with their families and to resume their education and other non-military pursuits?  Or will they have to be redeployed to Afghanistan, or worse, back yet again to Iraq?

So here's my thoughts:  let's bring the troops home from Iraq, and let's get them back up to readiness to fight the next war - whether that be in Iran, North Korea, or Russia.  Further, we'll still need to likely pursue a surge in Afghanistan, where it seems the Taliban have have been mounting a surge of their own, as evidenced by their shootdown of an American helicopter there yesterday while killing two American soldiers with a car bomb.  Let's get back to going after the people who attacked us on September 11, 2001, and let's finish THAT war.  Let's finally declare victory in THAT war - the victory that comes from seeing the end of Al Qaeda in Pakistan and the capture/death of Osama bin Laden.

The surge was a great idea, but I haven't heard much about post-surge.  And the most important thing I learned about surges during my time in the military was to not enter a surge until you had a plan for how to handle the post-surge period.  So far, though, I haven't seen much long-term thinking about how we will handle the war in a post-surge period, and that is my biggest concern in this election year.

Obama has a plan for drawing down the forces in Iraq and refocusing them in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  McCain says he'll keep the troops there "until the job is done", which is a nebulous and lofty goal but is completely lacking in any concrete details.  For clarification, if I ever went to my commanding general and told him that my projected end date was when "the job is done", I'd find myself removed from my command and replaced - and rightly so.

Therefore, in weighing the candidates, I have to go with Obama on this one.

10/31 - Politics:  Election 2008: Taxes and the Economy - One of the biggest issues in the economy is who is going to cut taxes more or who is going to raise taxes more.

First, before I even get into the candidates' positions on taxes, we need to understand something.  There is a $10 TRILLION debt.  That's right; $10,000,000,000,000.00.  At some point, like it or not, someone is going to have to raise taxes to pay off that debt.  That's a guarantee.

So, no matter who comes to office, someone is going to need to reduce that debt.  The government can't keep spending money it doesn't have.  What happens if someone does that in our world?  Their stuff gets repossessed and they have to declare bankruptcy.  Hell, I could be a millionaire if I could run up an unchecked debt like the government does.  We can't be foreclosing people's homes for not paying their mortgage if they are acting no different than the government.

Now, everyone hates taxes.  I don't like having to give money to the government.  But as I have said many times before, I see no difference between my taxes and my insurance premiums.  We pay taxes as insurance against a lot of things - major disasters, enemy attacks, crime, and pandemics.  We also pay taxes to improve the infrastructure, not unlike paying our phone and cable bills (of which a part allegedly goes to upgrade systems).

When you look at it in the light described above, I am willing to pay higher taxes - IF, and this is a big IF - we pay people better.  I'd pay higher taxes if teachers got paid higher, soldiers and sailors got paid higher, and if we improved roads and bridges.  Would that jump start the economy?  More pay for teachers and soldiers means more money they can spend in the economy.  Money to roads and bridges would create jobs, and those people in turn would spend that money in the economy.

Alternatively, what am I going to do with my tax cut?  I'll likely stick it in my savings and wait for the economy to improve.  

So, I ask you, which of these two options is more likely to have an impact on the economy?

So, as you can see, John McCain's fearmongering of Obama "raising your taxes and redistributing your wealth" doesn't instill fear in me.  On the contrary; I'd rather Obama raise taxes to cut down on that national debt today before it gets any worse, and my son is having to pay even HIGHER taxes to pay down a $100 TRILLION debt tomorrow.  And if a McCain administration is anything like the current Bush Administration  (and the fact that they share the same braintrust makes think they might be), we will have a $100 TRILLION debt...

11/12 - Politics:  The Obama Victory - Now that the election is over, let me talk about the Obama victory.

First, I am a Republican.  I grew up a Republican and up until 1994, I was a Republican.  It was in 1994, however, that I realized that someone decided that "Conservative = Republican."  Actually, it was worse - someone equated "Christian Evangelical Conservative = Republican."

I am a Republican because I believe that the power belongs to the states rather than a bloated Federal government.  I am a Republican, because I believe that fiscal responsibility and the protection of personal freedoms are the most important things.  Unfortunately, however, the Republican party as of late has forgotten that.

It was the most amazing to me, then, when Obama - not a Republican - said "Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity."  Ironic that a Democrat seems to know more about the Republican party than the Republicans do.

There was a time when I would have voted for McCain.  The problem was, I wanted to vote for 2000 McCain, not 2008 McCain.  I used to be a big fan of McCain when he was a maverick - back in the early days of the Bush Administration when he used to oppose Bush when he thought something was bullshit.

But in 2004, something happened.  He started agreeing with President Bush, no matter how asinine President Bush sounded.  And I think I know what it was.  I think it was as soon as we invaded Iraq.  As soon as he saw public opinion turn against the President and against the war, I think he recalled his Vietnam days - when not supporting the war and not supporting the president somehow equated not supporting the troops.  I think that he was fearful that somehow if we opposed the President, we were turning our backs on the troops.  It's unfortunate, because I really liked McCain up until he became Bush's "yes-man".

In 2002, shortly after the Sept 11th attacks, McCain called on Americans to make sacrifices for the military.  He was opposed to the Bush tax cuts, asking instead that those funds go to support the military efforts against the terrorists.  I agreed with him then, and I still agree with that belief now.  However, it shocked me when I heard him call out Obama about raising taxes.  Why not raise taxes to support the troops and pay down the debt?

Then McCain picked Sarah Palin.  Was anyone really surprised that she didn't know Africa was a continent and not a country?  She was an idiot.  And the fact that the evangelicals completely ignored the fact that she was an idiot and embraced her simply because she announced she was pro-life, is what makes me fearful for the future of the Republican party.  I'm not saying being pro-life is necessarily bad; being pro-life to the degree that everything else - the war, the economy, civil liberties - is irrelevant, *is* BAD.

Barack Obama won, and I think this is an amazing time for America.  I will admit I shed a tear during his victory speech.  I also think he will heal this country that has been divided by party for so long.

But I hope the Republicans realize who they are.  They are the party of Lincoln.  They are the party of liberty, unity, and responsibility.  Once they can realize that the Republican party should appeal to more than just evangelical Christians, maybe they'll be able to rebuild themselves again - and maybe I can come back to the party.