Spiga

Rights, Responsibilities, Opportunities, and Wealth

Last night I heard Tom Brokaw on Charlie Rose say something that got me thinking. On the issue of health care, he said, "Its a right and a responsibility. In a wealthy industrial nation, we should be able to provide health care for everyone; but, you have a responsibility to your fellow citizen not to smoke, not to get obese, not to have bad habits that costs us all when it comes to health care."

I believe this should be at the core of progressive politics. We should understand that as citizens we have a right to those things that are required, such as health care, housing, employment, etc. However, we also have the responsibility as citizens to not take advantage of the system. In short, we should be working together toward common goals in ensuring that our fellow citizens are not on the streets, hungry, and without basic health care.

Yes, it's about opportunity; and opportunities have been declining. Costs are rising, wages are not keeping up. A man can work himself night and day and still not be able to afford to make sure his children can go to the doctor without fearing financial ruin from medical bills.

In the long run, when one section of society goes without and are in need, the costs spill over to the rest of us anyway. These people end up on our street corners, begging to work for food. While there may be some who do take advantage of the system, I believe that is a risk we must take to ensure those who are reaching for the opportunities to work and succeed are able to.

In the musical, 1776, the conservative John Dickinson is written to have said, "Don't forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor." I wonder how many view the world in this way, and begrudge the efforts of those who are asking for sacrifice for the good of the whole from those who are better able to bear the load, when they themselves may require the sacrifice of those who are able.

Experiencing Obama


A co-worker stopped by my office today to tell me about her and her family's experience at the Obama rally last evening at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre here in Virginia Beach. She and I have had many political conversations regarding Barack Obama. Due to her experience as an African American woman, she was very skeptical of the possibility that Obama could win the nomination, let alone the election. Because of this, she was hesitant to get involved support him. Our conversations changed a lot of that prior to him winning the nomination, but her experience last night in going and listening to Obama speak solidified that support, and that hope, for her.

I asked her to share her experience with me for this post. This is what she wrote:


After a full day of working, then working out, helping my kids with homework, straightening up the house, paying bills, and making dinner; the last thing I wanted to do was walk for miles with a kids in tow, stand outside in 40 degree weather and listen to a speech. However, that’s what I did and it was one of the best things I have experienced. It was not only exciting for my kids, but enlightening for me. Barack Obama spoke common sense. He spoke of basic needs that every human being has the right to. He did not slide to a certain end of the spectrum, right or left. He challenged the political mold with one common sense statement: we are all in this together. He spoke to the middle class, the poor, and the wealthy. I realized that this is no longer a campaign about race or class. This is a campaign about common sense. We owe it to ourselves to vote what we teach our kids: our convictions. The rally left me with goose bumps as I watched people dancing with each other side by side. White people, people from the Philippines, black people, and Hispanics rejoiced and danced because for the first time in a long time, we felt the void had been filled and there was hope. This was a microcosm society of our nation, and I was proud.



I you, like me, were not able to make it out to the rally last night, you can watch Obama's speech below:


American Stories, American Solutions



I often refer to those left behind when we support a government that assumes that if the wealthy are doing well, all are doing well. Economic success doesn't always trickle down. Watch this video, listen to the personal stories of hard working people who have been left behind. Imagine national leadership who is willing to fight for all people. We can decide to have a better future. We can change our nation for the better by changing the leadership in Washington. Watch this video and join with me in electing Barack Obama as President of the United States of America.

Live Blog: 2008 Presidential Debate #3

Instead of having a surge of posts on twitter, I thought using Cover it Live would be a nice solution to love blogging the debate. Feel free to add your comments during the debate. Thoughts and summary will be posted sometime following the close of the debate.

Checking out the Ping.fm social networking aggregator. Trying to make my "social life" a little easier to maintain.

McCain/Palin Rally in Virginia Beach

I didn't attend McCain/Palin rally this morning in Virginia Beach for two reasons. The first is that I, like so many, actually had to be at work today (even though it is Columbus Day). The second reason is that I am not an undecided voter, and my attendance would show that either I was undecided or was a supporter of McCain. I didn't want to add to the number that will be reported.

I did, however, catch McCain's remarks over at WashingtonPost.com. I'd admit that there were moments while reading that I was impressed and even moved. However, most of the speech was a grocery list of promises that I don't believe he will be able or willing to fulfill once in office. There is an inconsistency in his message when he rails against government spending and borrowing from other nations, while also not providing a vision for our departure from Iraq. He rails against Obama's business tax plan (while again not specifying that only the top 5% would actually have their taxes increase in Obama's plan) and compared him to Hoover when he should look at his party's refusal to raise taxes to fund Bush's war. It just doesn't work.

I also want to note something about McCain's statement that we need a president who will not study out the issues, but one who will act immediately. There is something very unsettling in this statement. I would actually rather a president who approaches every situation with caution and conscience rather than one who would fly by the seat of his pants because he feels he already knows the best course, from day one. Isn't this strategy the same used by Clinton to create the perception of experience? I don't remember it resonating too well then either.

Something I don't remember when Obama came to town were protesters. There seemed to be plenty a few at the McCain rally, which seems to be such an often occurrence that Sarah Palin can't tell the difference between protesters and supporters anymore.

I'm not sure if the protesters were a good or bad thing. While I think it's great there were people out there showing their support for McCain's opposition, I think it fuels the division that our nation doesn't need.

There's a lot of controversy over how Virginia will vote on November 4th. Looking at the polls, it seems that Obama could end up winning Virginia. If he does, it would be the first time Virginia was won by a Democrat in over forty years. Currently, Obama is over 6 points up above McCain according to Real Clear Politics, who also projects an general Obama win with 277 electoral votes. This is all based on polling, so take it with a grain of salt.

Thanks to those commenting who have clarified the events of the day and for reminding me of my responsibility as a blogger

Obama: Chill!

Concerning online polls

It seems that everybody and their brother who has some sort of political or news website or blog is posting a poll. In most cases, this is all well and good. However, when you have trusted sources reporting on the results from online polls, a problem arises.

For example, PBS current has a poll online asking visitors if they think Sarah Palin is qualified to serve as Vice President of the United States. As of the writing of this post, the results of this poll were tied at 49% who think she is, and 49% who think she isn't. PBS, who broadcasts far and wide, will be reporting these results, and it's likely the results will be picked up by the mainstream media and broadcasted as well; even though the poll specifically says it is not a scientific poll.

It's easy to cheat on polls posted to a website. Depending on the design of a poll, unless attached to specific credentials of site users, it's easy to cheat. Changing the IP address, using a different browser, and using different computers are all ways in which a person can respond to a poll multiple times.

The site which a poll is posted to can also affect the polls results. For example, if the PBS poll has been posted to Bearing Drift, their base audience being conservative, the results would likely be skewed in Palin's favor. Just the opposite would likely occur on VB Dems. In other words, online polls will often reflect the bias of the audience attracted to the site.

All this being said, the e-mail I received informing me of the PBS poll mentioned that, "the right wing knew about this in advance and are flooding the voting with YES votes". This might very well be the reason the poll is tied. As the results are being reported, I suggest heading over and casting your vote in their unscientific, easily hacked, and biased poll.

Follow-up: Poll Crashers: Online polls are fun, not science

Ignorance is NOT Bliss!

I would like to think that the general public is bright enough to realize that politicians are always going to put their own spin on information they can dig up on their opponent. However, why is it that if a story comes from a television broadcast, newspaper, or popular news web site, it's assumed to be from a legitimate source of information. Why do people assume that if it is in the paper or on T.V., it has to be the gospel? I hear so many people quote their favorite news reporter or talk-show shock jock like it's something they've just read out of Encyclopedia Britannica.

When are the masses going to realize that there are no longer news stations or newspapers that report unbiased news stories. Every news broadcast has to put their own spin on it. If it's CNN or New York Times, it's considered "liberal news"; if it's Fox News or the National Review, it's considered "conservative news". Nowadays, you have to dig down deep to find out who owns a stake in a specific channel or newspaper in order to realize from which slant the stories will be spun. Often when I watch broadcasts that profess to be news broadcasts, I have to remind myself that I'm not watching Entertainment Tonight or TMZ. Gone are the Walter Cronkites and David Brinkleys of yesteryear. Today's news reporter has to give his or her opinion about the news as they report it or report it as news, when in fact it is an editorial regarding a specific news item. We've gone from objective news reporters to spin doctors!

It is our responsibility as citizens of the United States to research everything we hear before we actually swallow this propaganda as fact. Most people are too lazy to do the research. I've heard far too many people profess, "I'm too busy to verify everything I hear. That's what I'm counting on the News networks to do for me." They actually depend on their favorite media sources to filter through the facts and feed it to them in a Reader's Digest version. They trust what the media is telling them. Thousands of people believe the email propaganda that assaults their Inbox on a daily basis, and are even irresponsible enough to forward this information without first checking the facts. How many times do I remind co-workers, friends and family members that before they blindly forward a viral email, they can do a quick fact check just by going to reliable and objective sites such as:

www.snopes.com
www.hoax-slayer.com
urbanlegends.about.com
www.truthorfiction.com

Don't people ever ask themselves, "Doesn't this sound a little extreme?", "Do these facts seem a little exaggerated?", "Fact or Fiction?". "Do I want to be responsible for spreading misinformation or should I verify this information first?". As a result, whenever I receive any information or read any article about a particular politician that contains information that sounds rather extreme, I always take time to verify the facts as much as possible (without accessing the FBI or CIA databases) before I share that information!

When a politician or their campaign office suddenly announces a startling revelation about their competitor, it always gives me pause for concern. Even if it comes from a source that I trust and respect, before sharing that revelation, I feel that it is my duty as a responsible citizen to verify the facts. So before you espouse the virtue of a particular candidate, do us all a favor and do your homework. When I say, "Check your resources", I'm not talking about listening to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, or Keith Olbermann. Learn how to evaluate a legitimate source of information.

Sources like Wikipedia can be a good starting point, however, this is a public wiki which can be edited by anyone in the world....think about it. Wikipedia editors have claimed the surmise of famous people years before they've actually kicked the bucket. Ask Sinbad! Random bloggers, such as, "Meat", the author of The Harley Davidson's BadAss Blog, would not exactly be considered a reliable source when blogging on the subject of nuclear physics. Not to say there aren't well-informed bloggers who write about their fields of expertise, however, it's your job to verify their legitimacy by checking their references and resources. You can supplement your research with non-academic information resources, but keep in mind that the information you find there, may not be accurate.

Do what you're always reminding your kids to do...your homework! It's important. The future of our country is depending on you to cast an EDUCATED vote!

Mayoral Candidates Forum

From DailyPress.com

Virginia Beach mayor Meyera Oberndorf and three challengers for her position will attend a roundtable debate next week.

Oberndorf will meet with William Sessoms, Scott Taylor and John Moss on Thursday, Oct. 16, at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts. The event is sponsored by the Roundtable of Business Leaders.

The two-hour debate will start at 11:30 a.m.

The event is free, but reservations are required. To make a reservation, call 417-4947.

Kempsville Candidates Forum

There will be a Forum for the Kempsville candidates for Virginia Beach City Council at Kempsville Lakes Clubhouse off Baxter Road tomorrow evening at 7:00 p.m.

Kempsville Lake Community Association
300 Weller Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach Candidates Forum: African American Issues

A Candidates Forum for the positions of City Council and Mayor of Virginia Beach jointly sponsored by the Norfolk State University Political Science Association and the Hampton Roads Committee of 200+ Men, Inc. will be held at the Virginia Beach Higher Education Center's (VBHEC) 1881 University Drive in Lecture Hall 244 A&B Saturday October 11, 2008 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.. The forum will be open to the public and will focus on the issues related to African American citizens in the city and the region.

Refreshments will be served.

Virginia Beach Higher Education Center

1881 University Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23453

Ph: 757.368.4150/4155
Fax: 757.368.4151

McCain dodges Obama handshake: Do we want an angry president?



Last night in my initial blog post summarizing the debate, I mentioned how Obama countered McCain's edginess with a coolness that aided him in the debate. After thinking about McCain's behavior a bit more, I'm not sure that edginess was a proper description. McCain wasn't really edgy. He was angry. He was on the offense, and at times was offensive. I don't think America needs nor wants an angry president. Obama has shown, both in the primaries and in the general election, with few missteps, that he is cool, calm, collected, and confident; while McCain has appeared to be reactionary.

Limiting contact with Obama, referring to him personally only to berate him, dodging shaking hands with him; McCain is showing that he is not able to handle the job of President of the United States in a manner that we need to propel our nation forward. If elected, we could face an additional four years of crude international relations, unnecessary military responses, and domestic policies lacking the compassion, tolerance, and respect that the people deserve.

Debate: Long answers, little new information

Tonight's presidential debate between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain once again left much to be desired. Neither the first presidential debate or the vice-presidential debate, provided any real moments where a candidate stood out far above their opponent. I suppose this is something that should be expected from a race that is so close, in a very charged political environment. You can check out my notes and comments that I made on Twitter while watching the debate by clicking here.

McCain: Just as in the first debate, McCain seemed to avoid Obama unless berating him or his voting record. At one point while describing a bill, McCain gestured to Obama and referred to him as "that one". Those twittering on the debate caught this, calling it disrespectful and condescending. In fact, even before making this remark, McCain seemed to be patronizing toward Obama and even had moments where he assumed the ignorance of questioners in the audience. McCain also seemed to want to establish that he had actual solutions to fixing social security and finding Osama Bin Laden. I'm sure many are wondering why he hasn't fixed it during all his time as a senator and why he didn't let Bush administration know where to find Bin Laden.

Obama: Unfortunately, Obama has had some issues with audible pauses when he's answered questions in the past. During tonight's debate, he seemed to have recovered from that. Obama was able to counter McCain's edginess with a coolness that made it easier to listen to the answers he was providing. During much of the debate, like during the first, Obama spent a lot of time clarifying his positions and proposed policies. To do so, he pushed for time to follow-up after McCain's attacks. McCain actually had a little bit of a fit (I can't describe it any other way) when Obama was allowed to follow-up. During one such follow-up, Obama was able to clearly lay out his tax plan to counter McCain repetitious claims that Obama was going to raise taxes.

There certainly was some question dodging from both Obama and McCain during the debate, as well as some rule bending. Both candidates, and perhaps Obama was more guilty of this than McCain, tended to indirectly answer some of the question presented without providing answers to specific details of the question. Candidates should be aware that their credibility is diminished when they answer question in this way.

The winner is: While neither candidate positioned themselves ahead of the other in policy or clarity in their position, with perhaps the exception of Obama and his tax plan; Obama seemed to be able to handle the debate format better than McCain, making his performance the winning factor in this debate.

Keith Olbermann: Aw shucks Sarah, who have have you been pallin' around with?



The start of this week has been remarkably ridiculous for both campaigns. The Obama campaign is making an attempt at connect McCain to the current economic meltdown via the Keating Five, and the McCain campaign seems to be focusing on Obama's early connections with Bill Ayres by way of Sarah Palin. In my opinion, both are standing on shaky ground, throwing punch for punch. This isn't the kind of campaign either promised at the beginning of the season.

What's more ridiculous is how thin each of the attacks are, and how much time is being wasted in trying to convince the public that the opposing side is connected with all sorts of evil. It's mildly insulting.

If nothing else, Olbermann illustrates how the current focus of the campaigns are ignoring the struggles of the American people. While the Obama campaign is still focusing on the economy, the McCain campaign, specifically Sarah Palin, seems to be depending on slander and rumors to achieve a bump in the polls and hopefully a few more votes. It's a sad thing that many who may be frightened into giving their vote to them are the same people who find themselves in situations that the McCain campaign seems happy to ignore for the time being.

Let's stop attacking character, and focus on vision, and proposed policies. Let's talk about who will govern in such a way to ensure a pluralist society. Let's talk about who will push for individual responsibility, while also ensuring that there is a helping hand when in need. Let's talk about who is willing to work to mend damaged international relations peacefully, without pushing for military engagement. Let's talk about who will continue to push for transparency in government, while also accepting the reality of politics. It's time we refocus on the changes we need in the leadership of this nation.

Obama campaign attempts Keating Five attack

This morning, Obama supporters received an e-mail from Barack Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, introducing an online documentary that is supposed to show how McCain's connection with the infamous Keating Five saga makes him partly responsible for the financial issues we are currently enduring.

In this e-mail, David informs us that, "During the savings and loan crisis of the late '80s and early '90s, McCain's political favors and aggressive support for deregulation put him at the center of the fall of Lincoln Savings and Loan, one of the largest in the country. More than 23,000 investors lost their savings. Overall, the savings and loan crisis required the federal government to bail out the savings of hundreds of thousands of families and ultimately cost American taxpayers $124 billion."

While I agree that there should have been more regulation and oversight, I disagree that McCain and the Keating Five are specifically at the root of the issue.

I was just in a brief conversation about McCain and the Keating Five the other day where I basically argued that McCain's connection and intentions were vague at best, and that it makes for a weak attack against McCain. His connection seemed to be circumstantial at best and his intentions at that time were unsubstantiated.

Someone in the campaign got overly excited about our current financial dilemma and thought focusing on the Keating Five would be a good way to connect McCain to the crisis. To me, this is poor judgement. Moreover, the Keating Five connection didn’t seem to stick or really do much damage before, why bring it up again?

This is a misstep for the campaign, I'm sorry to say. Hopefully the documentary won't get much play or press attention. With as saturated as most people are currently with mainstream media, blogs, videos, e-mails, calls, and canvasses; I'm hoping it will get lost in the shuffle.

Gilmore and Warner divide over bailout

Earlier, I wrote about how neither Obama nor McCain were taking any chances in making their support, or lack of support, for the $700+ billion bailout bill an election altering issue. With so much uncertainty about the US and world financial markets, they both seemed to walk the centrist line in order to limit possible damage to their campaigns.

Jim Gilmore seems to be banking on focusing on his opposition to the passage of the bill in contrast to Mark Warner's support of the bill. Gilmore's blog stated that, "Gilmore attacked Warner for his support of the emergency economic plan signed by President Bush, and he told a statewide television audience that he would have saved taxpayers' money by not handing it to 'Wall Street high rollers.'" In not showing his support for the bailout bill, he may be weakening his ties to the elected GOP and potential endorsements, like that of current Senator John Warner.

Mark Warner said that he would have voted for the bill, adding, "The option was no action or action,” he said. “This is not one you can say we’ve got to wait another 30 days and play Russian roulette. I would have liked to have seen it improved.” In truth, Warner would have voted how the majority of the Senate voted in the bi-partisan effort to pass the bill and, as the beloved Sara Palin would say, "shore up" the economy.

With less than a month to go before election day, it's doubtful that we will be able to attribute any lasting affect the bill will have on the economy before then; making the issue an emotional, and not intellectual, one. Is it really worth Gilmore weakening ties to those he'll need if elected to the Senate in order to make an emotional and vague appeal to voters. Due to the complexity of the issue, it's doubtful the outcome of such an appeal will do much to benefit him.

Could the financial crisis determine the election?

With the Senate gearing up to take a vote on a revised bailout bill to rescue our ailing financial market, both Senator Obama and Senator McCain seem to be cautious of what they say and the stance they take in relation to one another. For the time being, both Obama and McCain are urging the passage of the $700 Billion bill. This seems contrary to the feud the House of Representatives are having over the failed passed of their bill earlier this week. Neither Obama or McCain seem willing to deviate from "center stage", or the generally proposed action to correct the financial dilemma we face, and risk the political fallout of supporting the bill, or not, while the other does the opposite. In addition, neither seems to want to clarify their opinions on the specifics of the bill, or its passage would affect their intentions for their presidency.

Could this financial crisis be the issue that decides who will win on November 4th? I'm wondering if both campaigns are trying to steer wide around this issue in order to limit the possibility of harming their candidate's chances at being elected. All the while, the people are watching, and waiting, for sound leadership, and not finding much from either McCain or Obama.

Going to Washington and meeting with President Bush, and then only giving us vague rhetoric about how something must be done is not enough. The people need to know how each candidate would approach this crisis. Surely the actions they would undertake if they were president would not be as simular as they would have us think.

I wonder if either Obama or McCain are willing to take a risk in proposing an alternative plan in the Senate, or at least speaking out against what is already on the table. Doing so could either make or break their